Brass of the Month
May 2007: Methwold, Norfolk M.S.I, Sir Adam de Clyfton, 1367
May's brass of the month very narrowly escaped the melting pot.
Entering Methwold church and looking across to the north aisle, the impression is that Sir Adam de Clifton's figure, remounted on a wooden board against the wall, is complete. Closer inspection shows that the missing pieces have been reproduced in paint on the board.
Sir Adam was born in 1306 at Denver in Norfolk, the son of Roger de Clifton, who had married Margery, daughter of Adam de Cailly and his wife Emma, daughter and co-
Around 1680, the Sir Adam's brass was sold by the clerk of the parish to a tinker and broken into pieces ready to be melted. Somehow, the pieces were rescued and spent the next 180 years in the church chest. Blomefield, the county historian, described them as 'only insignificant pieces of his armour, part of the head of the lion that was couchant at his feet; most of them are rim pieces that ornamented the stone, and have quarter-
Blomefield describes the indent, now lost or permanently covered, as 'a large marble grave-
I have been unable to find any connection between Sir Adam and Methwold and wonder whether the brass in its stone was brought from elsewhere, perhaps at the Reformation. Two possibilities are that this monument was originally either in Wymondham Priory (later Abbey), of which the Cliftons were patrons, or in Buckenham Priory, to which Sir Adam gave land. Sir John Clifton, who died in 1446, was buried at Wymondham but Sir Robert Clifton, his cousin, who died about the same time, was buried at Buckenham. If Sir Adam's figure was deliberately mutilated to make it appear that the monument was to someone else, as Blomefield believed, it must count as a palimpsest by appropriation. The failure of the inscription to survive may support that view.
Copyright: Jon Bayliss
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Page last updated 02 May 2007