The Monumental Church Brasses
by Derek and Hazel Austin
articles on the church brasses of Thurrock were published
in the journals 'Panorama' 12, 13 & 14 between 1968
and 1971. The rubbings were taken in 1967 and the
descriptions of where the brasses are sited stem from
that date. In the interim, the brasses may have been re-sited
and at least two others have come to light. The
monumental brasses recorded here and in the Panorama
articles, are further evidence of the wealth of
historical interest which still remains for our
The use of engraved brass plates as memorials appears to have been introduced from the Low Countries during the late thirteenth century as an improvement on the incised stone slabs previously used. Brasses consist of two distinct elements; the plate of metal or latten, which was a mixture of copper and zinc and the indent, the countersunk stone slab in which the engraved plate was set flush by means of metal rivets and pitch. As there were no roller mills to make the metal plate, a system of water powered hammers was used and this often led to the sheet of brass being rather uneven as can be seen on some effigies.
We are fortunate in Thurrock that many of our churches still possess monumental brasses, most of which are interesting examples of the engravers' craft. Among these, the churches of Aveley and Stifford contain brasses from early times to the latter heyday of such monuments. In these churches alone, we have some very interesting brasses and there are others of equal interest in many other churches in Thurrock which are well worth investigating.
The descriptions of two monumental brasses in Orsett Parish church and the pre 1700 brasses of Chadwell St. Mary and Horndon-on the-Hill (omitted from TLHS survey in 1967) are included by the kind permission of Martin Stuchfield, Hon. Secretary of the Monumental Brass Society. A recent publication The Monumental Brasses of Essex by William Lack, H. Martin Stuchfield and Philip Whittemore (2003) published by the Monumental Brass Society, lists existing brasses, indents and lost brasses, with illustrations of all figure brass pre-dating 1700, selected indents and all later figure brasses.
Thanks to Chris Phillips for permission to use the name index from his medieval genealogy site.
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