The Monumental Church Brasses of Thurrock



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Thurrock Church Brasses

There are four monumental brasses, the oldest being a fine example of a knight in armour of the Camail period. This is an effigy of Sir Ingelram Bruyn Lord of the Manor and Patron of the church. The brass originally lay on the floor of the chancel and is now on the North wall of the Lady chapel. Unfortunately this brass is badly damaged (Fig. l.) The head is missing completely and the canopy surrounding the figure is only fragmentary. The length of the body from neck to feet is 101.5 cms. Included in the Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society 1911 is a description of this brass condensed as follows; the indent shows that the head rested upon a tilting helm surmounted by the crest of Bruyn. The armour consists of a shirt of mail covered by a jupon with the usual defences of plate on the arms and legs, gauntlets and sollerets. His feet rest upon a lion couchant, a broad embroidered bawdrick supports his sword and dagger. Across his chest is the legend in Latin, translated as follows:

"Behold now I sleep in the dust
But I know that my Redeemer liveth'.

Above and around the head of the effigy was a carved scroll which has been lost. The two shields placed above the arch, both bear in the first and fourth quarters the arms of Bruyn (Azure, a cross moline or i.e. a gold cross on a blue ground). (Fig.1a) The second and third quarters have been defaced but probably bore the arms of de la Rorkel, the manor having passed by marriage from the last heiress of that family to an ancestor of Sir Ingelram Bruyn. The Latin inscription is now lost but was recorded by Weever in 1631. 'Here lieth Ingelram Bruyn, Knight. once Lord of this Manor and Patron of this church who died on the 12th day of August in the year of our Lord One Thousand Four Hundred, on whose soul may God have mercy Amen'.

Sir Ingelram Bruyn married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edmund de la Pole. He had a son, Sir Maurice, who became Sheriff of Essex & Herts in 1424 and 1436.

On the West wall of the Lady Chapel is a brass commemorating Margaret Barker who died in 1602. She is shovn wearing the dress of the period, the main feature being the French farthingale, a hooped petticoat introduced c.1590. She wears a ruff round her neck and a train hangs from her shoulders. The figure is 76.5 cms long and is in the attitude of prayer (Fig 2). Above her head is a shield of arms.

The inscription (Fig. 2A) reads:
'Heere lyeth buried the body of Margaret Barker, wyfe unto Edward Barker of Chesswyke in Mydd: Gent: Her manye worthy vertues & graces in her lyfe made her a mirror for a fare and lovinge wyfe. Her true perfect patience in her death made her a patterne for a goode & Godlye lyfe, while she lived by a continuall myndfulness of death she guyded her lyfe absteyninge from evill and dooinge good: when she died by a lyvelye faythe and hope of lyfe in Christ she joyfully imbraced death, faythfully prayinge in perfect sence tyll the last to God to whome willinglye she yealded a happye soule the XXIIII daye of Marche in the XL yeare of her age AN Dom. 1602'.

Also on the West wall is a very plain brass, or coffin plate to the Lady Elizabeth Saltonstall. This is a rectangular plaque l9 cm x 7cm (Fig 3), and the abrupt inscription reads: 'The Lady Elizabeth Saltonstall Her Body Ao Dmi 1630'. This brass must have been removed from the church at some time. A note in the Essex Review 1914 mentions the fact that the brass had been returned the church after being found at Birch Rectory Colchester.

The last brass that we come to is dedicated to Gilbert Saltonstall who died in 1585. (Fig 4) A shield of arms 11cm x 13.5 cm is placed above a plaque 25 cm x 6.5 cm on which there is this inscription:
'The epitaph of Gilbert Saltonstall, who departed this lyfe 17th Nov. 1585'

Beneath this small plaque is a brass, 62.5, cm x 31cm, made to resemble an open book with the following verses inscribed*

'Before that God the world did frame from all eternity
In book of life to write thy name His love elected thee.
Whole mercies manifold and meet He did to thee extend
And, nothing from thee did He keep that could thy soul defend
But nameth with thy spirit of grace and gift celestial
Which did in Heaven prepare a place for thee imperial.
Thy mortal soul is ended here, thou changeth for the best
Removed above the Heavens clear in perfect joy and rest.
Thou art translated from the earth in springtime of thy age
By God, from sin, from Hell, from death and Satan's cruel rage.

Because He would not suffer thee with things terrestial
In any ways defiled be lest that thy feet should fall.
And now doth rest under His wings nothing can thee dismay
With plenteousness of Heavenly things thy state shall not decay.

In middest of the angels bright thy dwelling place shall be
Environed with Heavenly light and supernatural glory.
Where thou forever more shall be in presence of thy King
Christ Jesus who redeemed thee and praises to Him sing,
Farewell therefore preserved from pain,of Godliness the flower.
When thou and we shall meet again approacheth fast the hour
Where liveth with Christ perpetually in Glory shall remain
Delivered from things transistory in there shall be our gain.'
*[Spelling modernised]

Gilbert was the son of Sir Richard Saltonstall who became Lord Mayor of London in 1597.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1A

Fig. 2

Fig. 2A

Fig. 3

Fig 4

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