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Monumental Brass Society

The website for the Society for those interested in any aspect of monumental brasses and incised slabs of all dates in all countries.

In the medieval and early modern periods in particular, monumental brasses and incised slabs were popular forms of monuments or memorials used to cover the tombs of those buried inside churches. An incised slab is a flat memorial with an effigy of the deceased, a cross or other appropriate subject, with epitaph, cut directly into the stone; they originated before the Norman Conquest. A monumental brass, by contrast, is engraved on sheets of metal inlaid in matrices cut into the stone; they have been made in England from the thirteenth century to the present day.

Both brasses and slabs were designed in a range of styles reflecting the general trends in art of their period. They can be studied from a variety of perspectives, including the artistic context and iconography of the monuments and the life, self-image and religious beliefs of those commemorated.

Brasses and incised slabs are an interesting and absorbing study in their own right, but they also provide rich visual imagery for those interested in a range of other subjects.

Brasses and incised slabs act as a picture book illustrating key figures in the British history. Many monuments show participants in key events, including the 100 Years War with France, the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War. There are brasses to medieval royalty, such as that at Westminster Abbey to Eleanor de Bohun, daughter-in-law of Edward III and aunt of Richard II. Others commemorate descendants of key figures in our cultural heritage, such as the son and daughter-in-law of the poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, at Ewelme, Oxfordshire.

The Victorian revival in brass production, led by such influential ecclesiologists as Augustus Welby Pugin, led to the creation of monuments of great richness, ornament and colour, which rank among the best products of the art of the Gothic Revival.

Brasses and incised slabs also provide reliable contemporary sources for the study of many other subjects, including genealogy, heraldry, armour, costume and jewellery. They are also of interest to art historians, church archaeologists and ecclesiologists.

Please explore our website by using the navigation buttons at the top of most pages to find out more about the MBS and these fascinating memorials.


Brass of c1535 to Lady Katherine Howard, née Molines, died 1452 at Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk; Copyright © Ann Dowden 2002

Copyright © 2014 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 28 August 2015


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