Brass of the month
August 2006: Denham, Buckinghamshire, c. 1540
This attractive brass lies on the Sanctuary floor in Denham parish church on the north side of the altar. It shows Dame Agnes in conventual dress, consisting of a long gown tied with a girdle, a veil, wimple and cloak. She was Abbess of the Bridgettine Convent of Syon at Isleworth, which had been founded by Henry V in 1415. The house was dissolved by order of Henry VIII in 1539, and Agnes was given a generous pension of two hundred pounds a year.
The inscription reads:-
Of your charity pray for the soule/
of Dame Agnes Jordan sometyme/
Abbas of the Monasterye of Syon/
whiche departyd this lyfe the xxix day/
of January In the yere of or Lord god m/
vcxilv on whose soule ihu have mcy Amen
There is another abbess commemorated in brass, Elizabeth Harvey, Abbess of Elstow, c.1520 at Elstow, Bedfordshire.
The monastery at Isleworth was royally maintained, and existed as a mixed group of Bridgettine sisters and brothers, with other monks, nuns and anchorites as well. The Abbey was dedicated to the Saviour and St Bridget but was known as Mount Syon. Very little now remains of the monastic buildings, but Syon House, Middlesex, preserves the name. As Dom David Knowles comments in his ‘Religious Orders in England’, Cambridge, 1961, Vol 2, p 181:-
“Few will give a thought to those who for little more than a century filled the cloisters of two royal monasteries, and whose bones now rest in an unknown grave somewhere beneath the expanse of green from which every trace of their habitation has vanished.”
The brass of Dame Agnes Jordan reminds us of one of these religious whose calling was cut short by the Dissolution of the monasteries at the Reformation.
Copyright: David Meara
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Page last updated 01 September 2006