Brass of the Month

February 2010: John Kyngeston, 1514, and wife Susan, Childrey, Berkshire

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Page last updated 04 March 2015

This month's brass has been chosen by our president, the Venerable David Meara.

The parish church at Childrey contains a large collection of brasses, almost entirely of pre-Reformation date. It is clear from the remarkable survival of no less than three representations of the Trinity that the loss of various parts of the brasses have resulted from wear and tear over the centuries rather than the attention of sixteenth or seventeenth century iconoclasts.

The brass of John Kyngeston, who died in 1514, and his wife, Susan Fetyplace, whose date of death was never filled in on their inscription, is one of the three to have a plate of the Holy Trinity. It has lost two shields and parts of each of the two mouth scrolls. On the back of the Trinity and one of the remaining shields are two parts of the figure of a lady very similar to Susan's figure. Although there is nothing wrong with the part of this fragmentary figure that indicates any mistake was made by the engraver, it is likely that it was meant for Susan's figure until an engraving error caused it to be turned over and reused. Perhaps one or both of the missing shields would have had more of the figure. The figures are otherwise typical of the period and are of the London F style.


The mouth scrolls were possibly complete when Elias Ashmole was collecting material for 'The Antiquities of Berkshire', published in 1723. He read them as 'O Jhesu, dulcedo omnium te amancium', from John Kyngeston's mouth, and 'Et semper adjutor ad te perorantium', from Susan's. However, he clearly misread hers. Even in its current partial state, it can be seen that the last word ended 'clama[n]c[iu]m. William Clarke's 'Parochial topography of the hundred of Wanting' gives the whole word as 'proclamancium'. The wording of mouth scrolls on brasses often has obvious sources, such as the Apostles' Creed, but this example is more obscure. The foot inscription reads 'Of yowr Charite pray for the sowle of John Kyngeston Esquier sonne & ayer sumtyme to John Kyngeston, the wyche forsayd John deptyd from thys transytory lyfe the xvj day of Apryle in the yer of ower Lord God mvcxiiij and for the sowle of Suzan his wyfe the wyche deptyd from thys transytor lyfe the the yere of ower Lord mvc and      on whoys sowlles Jhu hawe mercy. Amen'.