Brass of the month
January 2004:Cobham, Kent c. 1305-
January's brass of the month is the earliest surviving brass in England commemorating a woman, Joan de Cobham, who died before 1298. It is the first of the outstanding series of brasses at Cobham, Kent, which lie in serried ranks before the high altar, attesting to the power and importance of the Cobham family..
Joan's husband, John 'the younger', Lord Cobham, who died in 1300, also was commemorated by a brass. Sadly this is now lost, but it was described in antiquarian sources as 'the brass of an ancient knight with a lion under his foot and at the upper end the arms of Cobham with the like on his breast in a great escutcheon of brass'. Joan's brass was made some years after her death, probably c. 1305-
From the 1330s joint brasses showing both husband and wife became increasingly fashionable, but at the start of the century separate monuments were the norm and many more brasses commemorated men than women. Joan merited her own brass because, although she was a woman, she was a person of wealth and consequence in her own right. Her marriage allied her to the Cobhams, a minor baronial family of some consequence who were yet to reach the zenith of their influence, but she was a co-
Joan's brass is a large and prestigious composition, likely to have cost in the region of £10, a huge sum in the early 14th century. The brass features the full length effigy of a lady wearing a loose gown with demi-
DAME IONE DE COBEHAM GIST ICI
DEUS DE SA ALME EIT MERCI
KI KE PUR LALME PRIERA
QUARAUNTE IOURS DE PARDOUN AVERA
(Dame Joan de Cobham lies here, God have mercy on her soul, whoever prays for her soul shall have 40 days pardon).
Not all the brass is original. All the brasses at Cobham were expertly restored by J.G. Waller in 1865-
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Page last updated 07 January 2004