Brass of the month

December 2005: Thorndon, Suffolk, 1478

Over the centuries many brasses have disappeared and are only known from the indents in the stones left in churches or from illustrations in old books, manuscripts and, occasionally, rubbings. This example is from Thorndon in Suffolk and was drawn probably around 1734. It is from the Hengrave Mss. in the Cambridge University Library.


The notes that goes with it read: “In Henry ye 7th's time Edward Grymston Esq lived here, for whom there is a large altar tomb on the north side of the chancell the inscription in brass torn off. His effigies with his arms on his surcoat standing on his crest still remains as in the following draught. At each corner is a shield the two at his feet are lost, on those at the head:


Grymstone: on a fess three mullets pierced in the dexter chef corner an ermine spot.


Grymstone impaling three bars gemelle


 Inscription and additional shields given later in another hand: Hic jacet Edwardus Grimston Armiger quondam de Richangles lodge qui obiit die Mercurii viz vicesimo tertio die mensis Septembris Anno Dni 1478 cujus anime propietur Deus Amen.


 In ye first corner above on a single escocheon of Grimston, in ye 2d corner Grimston  impaling Gu three bars gemels arg; in ye 3d Grimston impaling Drury; in ye fourth Grimston impaling Tiptofte.”




Although the drawing is somewhat stylised, details such as the shape of the couters (elbow defences), the way the sword is slung in front of the figure and the collared hound mark it out as a product of the workshop termed ‘London D’ , based in the Blackfriars, London.

 In the British Library are notes by D.E. Davy (Add.Mss. 19089/90 f 156) written around 1809. He visited Thorndon and found the upper half of the figure in the church chest. Two upper shields then survived in the indent on top of an altar tomb with a lost chamfer inscription. One shield remained around 1850. There is another reference in the Chorography of Suffolk published by the Suffolk Record Society in 1976 which confirms the description in the Hengrave Mss.

Although the brass has now gone, Thorndon boasts one brass to a Grimston; the inscription to Edward Grimstone, d. 1599, which was moved from nearby Rishangles church following its redundancy and is now mounted on the north wall.

Copyright: Peter Heseltine 

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Page last updated 30 November 2005