Brass of the Month
February’s brass of the month shows a figure in academic dress.
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Copyright © 2007 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)
Page last updated 04 March 2015
Surlingham is on the south bank of the River Yare, a few miles east of Norwich. It formerly had two churches. That dedicated to St Saviour was treated as a chapel even though it should have enjoyed full parish status. It was abandoned in the early eighteenth in favour of St Mary’s.
John Alnwik was nominated as vicar of St Mary’s by his kinsman, William Alnwik, bishop of Norwich from 1426 to 1436. John was a fellow of New College, Oxford, by 1426 and bursar of the college in 1427-
Outside Oxford and Cambridge, figures wearing academic dress are quite unusual. The representation of Alnwik as a Master of Arts follows conventions that do not show the dress as well as might be wished. Where the folds in the cloth make it look as if the lower half of his body is covered by a single garment that descends to just above his feet, the line that appears to indicate a wide hem is actually showing the division between two separate garments, as is much more obvious on some other brasses. Confusion is rife when one realises that the half effigy, of John Kyllyngworth, MA, died 1445, at Merton College, Oxford, has been described as wearing a cappa nigra, a sleeveless robe with slits for the arms to pass through, but the full length effigy of Geoffrey Hargreve, STS, died 1447, at New College, Oxford, is said to wear a sleeved tabard, although their dress appears identical. John Alnwik’s figure is from the same workshop and he is also dressed the in the same manner, although he differs from Hargreve in that his feet are not covered.
The inscription, as expected for an ecclesiastic at this date is in Latin and reads:
It refers to the many gifts he gave the church, which, according to Blomefield, included that of the town lands from which to finance repairs to the church.
Magister John iacet hic, dictus prenobilis Alnwik,
Qui dedit ecclesie plurima dona sue,
Et Mundum cenuit, celica regina petit,
Anno Milleno C quater L quoque deno,
A B Emden , A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 1957, page 27
F Blomefield, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, vol 5, pages 462-
M Norris, Monumental Brasses, the Memorials, pages 88-
H Druitt, A Manual of Costume as Illustrated by Monumental Brasses, plates opposite pages 136 & 138