Highlights of the British Collection:

Clerics in Monumental Brasses

The church was a powerful and wealthy section of society in medieval and Tudor England. Thus monumental brasses to abbots, bishops, prioresses and priests can be found. Some of the earliest brasses commemorated bishops and other senior members of the clergy.

Many of the brasses to abbots and bishops were lost during the Reformation; however those of priests often remained. They generally show priests wearing cassocks with a tonsure – a shaved patch on top of the head. In fact, monumental brasses remained a popular form of commemoration for the clergy until well after the Reformation.

Brasses can be used to identify the wide variety of vestments which were worn by the clergy.

Sometimes on clerical brasses the figure of the person was replaced by a representation. For instance in East Anglia, and less commonly elsewhere, priests were frequently depicted by a Chalice and Host.

Brasses to university scholars can also be found in college chapels at Oxford and Cambridge.

Click on Images to Enlarge

Richard Bilingford (click to enlarge)

Rubbing of Richard Bilingford, D.D. Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, dated 1442, from St Benedicts, Cambridge.

Priest  (click to enlarge)

Rubbing of a priest, dated 1400, from Great Berkham, Hertfordshire,

Robert Waldby

Rubbing of Robert Waldby, Archbishop of York, dated 1397, from St. Edmund's Chapel at Westminster Abbey

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Sarah Glover
January 2012