Brass of the Month
October 2005:Marden, Herefordshire
October's brass of the month commemorates Dame Margaret Chute, née Welford (d. 1614), and is from St Mary the Virgin church, Marden, Herefordshire.
Conserved and remounted on an Iroko wood board by William Lack in 1988, it shows Margaret in extravagant early Jacobean costume flanked by her two young daughters, with her delicately engraved coat of arms above her and an epitaph below on two separate rectangular brass plates.
The epitaph explains that Margaret was the second wife of Sir George Chute (b. 1586) and daughter and sole heir of Thomas Welford, Esq., of Wisteston. She had two daughters: Anne, who is depicted in adult costume on a small separate sheet of brass on her mother’s left, and Francis, who is shown as a swaddled ‘chrysom’ baby on her mother’s right. No information is given on Anne, who may therefore have been still alive when this brass was commissioned: her dates of birth and death are not known.
Margaret herself died the day after giving birth to Francis, on 9 June, one of many mothers who failed to survive the dangers of childbirth in this era. Margaret was apparently Sir George’s second wife; he married again after her death and had more children by his first and third wives.
Francis is said to have died on the first day of her birth: the fact that she is referred to by name suggests that she was baptised before her premature death. She is shown lying with her head on a pillow, her costume being a compromise between the swaddling clothes of a live infant and the lace trappings on her collar and bib that denote high social rank: the swaddling bands are no longer of the medieval criss-
Both Margaret and Anne are shown standing on small circular bases, with their hands conventionally raised in an attitude of prayer. Margaret is dressed in a pointed bodice with wings: it is divided mi-
Margaret and her daughter also both wear a wide raised collar of expensive needlepoint lace against cambric; there is more needlepoint lace around the neckline of Margaret’s bodice. The low neckline was favoured by Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I, as seen in her portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, dated c.1610, at Woburn Abbey. In addition, Margaret wears three strings of (probably) pearls around her neck and below it what appears to be another necklace of large beads, which her daughter also sports. There is also a long earring dangling from her left ear (the right ear is invisible), but there are no rings to be seen on her fingers.
In addition, mother and daughter wear their hair pulled back by either ornamental combs or a framework of lace and wire, which gives them both a curious silhouette. Margaret is again following court fashion in this respect: Queen Anne is also portrayed with a wavy silhouette in a bust-
Quite striking is also the individual, portrait-
Copyright: Sophie Oosterwijk
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Page last updated 30 September 2005