Brass of the Month

October 2006: Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, 1608


October brings us a brass where the figure is very much subservient to the heraldry - the number of shields on the plate totals twenty-seven.


There is still much to surprise the student of monumental brasses in the less visited parts of the English countryside. The brass of Margaret, wife of John Lambart (or Lambert), at Pinchbeck in Lincolnshire, with its extensive gilding and painting, is a case in point. Although listed by Mill Stephenson, it escaped notice in the Lincolnshire church notes compiled in the seventeenth century by Holles and in the nineteenth century by Monson (Lincolnshire Record Society, volumes 1 and 31). As it can never have been intended as anything but a wall-mounted brass, it must have been somehow hidden for much of its existence. Currently it is attached directly to the north wall of the church, which accounts for the corrosion around the edges of the plate.





 






 



The descent of Sir Thomas Lambert, John and Margaret's son, from William the Conqueror is illustrated in 20 painted shields leading from the top to the bottom dexter corners and down the centre of the brass, while Margaret's own family, the Carrs, is shown by a further five shields starting at the top sinister. The shield representing her marriage to John is repeated on her dress. The achievement at the base of the composition has a shield with many quarterings, representing the marriage of Thomas Lambert to Susan, daughter of Sir Edward Dymoke of Scrivelsby, and the crests of both families. Thomas was knighted in 1603. Peter Heseltine's 'Heraldry on Brasses' lists all of the shields and their charges.

 

The Lincolnshire Pedigrees published by the Harleian Society admit to some confusion as to Margaret's date of death, stated to be 8 June 1615 but contradicted by information from the register that it was 26 May 1608. The style of the figure suggests that 1608 is more likely to be the correct date. She was 84 years old at her death. Although the portion of the brass, showing Margaret kneeling at a desk - almost invisible against the gilt surface - on a tiled floor, is very much a standard Southwark design apart from the armorial shield on the lady's dress, the whole brass is exceptional for the extensive survival of paint and gilding and the composition as a whole. There are a few other brasses of this period that have also been gilded and painted - the figure, with a large lozenge of arms, of Anne Abbott, died 1610,  at Hartland in Devon is one apparently from the same workshop - but Margaret Lambert's stands out as a superior example.














Copyright: Jon Bayliss


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