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A Brass once in Biggleswade Church

  • Ralph Griffin

The fine large church of St. Andrew, Biggleswade, in Bedfordshire, is described in the V.C.H. of that county (i, 213). In the course of last century it suffered a devastating restoration, one of the results of which was the almost total destruction of an interesting monumental brass which was lying in a large Purbeck slab in the midst of the chancel, being the memorial of a distinguished cleric who had the prebend of Biggleswade in Lincoln Cathedral. This brass had attracted the attention of Gough, who devotes a page of his second volume to illustrating it. This page is reproduced without its margin in pl. XLVIII. The margin only shows the reference at top to pl. CII, and to the page 273 of the volume, and below notes that the drawing was done by Schnebbelie and the engraving by Longmate. The slab as shown is very large, being 11½ ft by 5½ ft. Haines in part ii of his Manual (1861) describes the brass, stating that though the effigy and canopy with SS. John Baptist, Anna, Elizabeth, and Mary of Egypt were lost, yet figures of death, angels, etc., inscription in sixteen Latin verses and mutilated marginal inscription in ten Latin verses remained, and that the slab had been powdered with crescents and escallops, all lost but two. Sir A. W. Franks, in Proceedings, vi, 311, notes that the effigy was kneeling.

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page 285 note 1 Thanks are due to Mr. A. B. Connor for the reproduction. He had to work on a somewhat faint rubbing, but the result is most satisfactory even if in one or two points what was there originally may be somewhat doubtful.

page 287 note 1 Monumental Brasses and Slabs, 1847, p. 125.

page 287 note 2 In the church of St. Michael, Gloucester, these arms were in glass gules a crescent between six escallops argent, which is the coat of Rudyng recorded in Beds. Notes and Queries, i, 62, and in the Topographer and Genealogist, i, 65. It seems possible that Browne Willis mistook escallops for mullets, an easy thing to do in a MS. trick. Cole (Add. MS. 5841, p. 175) takes that view.

page 288 note 1 Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society, ii, 239.

page 288 note 2 List of Palimpsest Brasses in Great Britain, London, 1903, p. 147.

page 289 note 1 Calendar of Papal Registers.

page 290 note 1 Mr. H. R. Creswick, of the University Library, Cambridge, was good enough to copy this: he has expanded some of the contractions. Browne Willis's version as printed varies slightly.

page 290 note 2 The manuscript seems to have passed with the rest of Browne Willis's library to his relations, the Flemings of Hampshire. They sold it at Christie's about 1855, when the Bible was bought by Thomas Kerslake, the bookseller. From him it was acquired by the Rev. H. Roundell, vicar of Buckingham, and after his death his widow, in 1883, gave it to the parish, and it is now under the care of the Rev. R. F. Bale, the present vicar. Mr. Creswick seemed to think it was late fourteenth or early fifteenth century in date.

page 290 note 3 Early Lincoln Wills, Gibbons, Alfred, 1888, p. 196.

page 290 note 4 Trans. Mon. Brass Soc. ii, 77.

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The Antiquaries Journal
  • ISSN: 0003-5815
  • EISSN: 1758-5309
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquaries-journal
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