Brass of the Month
December 2007: William Armorer, 1560, All Hallows-
On the floor of the Northwest corner of the sanctuary of the church of All Hallows-
Fig 1: Society of Antiquaries of London.
The engraving of the figures is very light so that, except close-
He that lyveth so in this worlde
That god is pleased with all
He need not at the judgment day
Feare nothing at all
Therfore in peace lie downe will we
And take our rest and slepe
And offer to god in sacrifice
Our bodies and soules to kepe.
Unto that day that god shall call
Our bodies to rise agayne
Then we with other shall come together
To Glorify his Name.
Fig 2: H.M.Stuchfield
Below these lines is the epitaph:
Willm Armar Esquier, Sarvaunt to Kinge Henry the Eight,
Edward the syxte, Quene Mary and Quene Elizabeth (one
And Fyftie yeares) (Governor of the pages of honor) and
Fre of the Citie of London & of ye Company of Clothworkre
And heare under lies buried with Elizabeth his wyf. We
Beleve in the Blode of Christ only to Ryse agayne to
Everlastyng Lyfe: Ano Dni Mc CCCCC LX
In the 1633 edition of Stow’s Anatomy of London the brasses in All Hallows are described as being “in the chancell on the ground neere to one another”, but by the 1840’s this one was on the second pillar of the South aisle where, according to Thomas Howell, churchwarden and member of The Clothworkers’ Company, it had “fallen into decay”. He suggested that it might be “regilded and painted for £5 or less”. The Court of the Company ordered that it be “repaired, involving a sum not exceeding £6 6s”, and on 6th December 1843 the Court Orders read, “ The restoration of Armar’s monument in All Hallows Barking has been accomplished and Mr Howell has added a brass plate recording the Clothworkers’ part therein”. A contemporary rubbing shows the repaired brass complete with a modest Clothworkers’ plate beneath (fig 3 ). However, in the archives of the Company there exists the original design for this plate (fig 4), but it must have taken the estimate to over six guineas!
Fig 3: The Clothworkers’ Company
All Hallows must have suffered severely from damp in that era because in 1926 Mill Stephenson notes that the brass is still on its pillar in the South Aisle, “restored by the Clothworkers’ Co. in 1843, but now much corroded”. Only fourteen years later, on 29th December 1940, the church was bombed and burned out in the blitz, but by great good fortune the brasses survived within the remains of the church which were asphalted over until 1951 to prevent pilfering. A long-
It would appear that the Armourer family came to London from Norwell in Nottinghamshire in the late 15th century. In those days an earlier William Armourer (also known as Smyth) was the brother-
William was proud of his royal service and of his membership of The Clothworkers’ Company and Stow (1633) records a notice in All Hallows church of “God’s blessings bestowed on the poore of this Parish, by the benevolence and charity of wel-
Fig 4: The Clothworkers’ Company
There remains a post script: another William Armourer, also with a wife named Elizabeth, was elected Master of The Clothworkers’ Company in July 1560, nine months after the older William had died. He could have been the latter’s son, but this is not certain, although membership of the same Livery Company makes it likely that they were related.
Copyright: Michael Harris
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Page last updated 05 December 2007