Brass of the Month

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August 2013 - Lydia Gore, 1654/5, Alderton, Wiltshire

Lydia Gore was the wife of the lord of the manor, called Aldrington on the brass but known as Alderton not only today but by most then, the Gore family being the exceptions. Her brass is evidently London-made and can be attributed to Thomas Stanton of Holborn by virtue of the lettering, particularly the capitals of the first two lines of the verse.  Because Lydia's eldest surviving son, Thomas Gore, born March 1631/2, was at one time a friend of the antiquary John Aubrey and was co-operating with him and others on a proposed history of Wiltshire, we know that the verse was the work of Thomas Tully, at one time Thomas Gore's schoolmaster and later a friend of the family. Tully was born in Carlisle in 1620 and educated at Queen's College, Oxford, becoming Principal of St Edmund Hall in 1658. His clerical career encompassed the posts of chaplain in ordinary to Charles II and, just a few months  before his death in January 1675/6, dean of Ripon, but his appointment as rector of Grittleton the parish adjoining Alderton in 1658 brought him into closer contact with the Gore family. He had earlier taught Thomas Gore at Tetbury School. Although he published theological works in some numbers, little survives of his poetry. He had written a poem in French in 1643 to welcome the return of Queen Henrietta Maria to England and a verse epitaph in Greek, formerly hung over the grave of Lancelot Dawes, vicar of Barton in Westmorland. He wrote two elegies in English on the death of Richard Barton of Langill in Westmorland when Thomas, Richard's eldest son and a Fellow of Queen's College, put together a volume of verses by himself and others on his father's death and published them in 1637.   

There is a wealth of poetry commemorating the Gore family and their relatives on the monuments of Alderton church but the rest, some of it recorded as the work of another local clergyman, William Noble, vicar of Sutton Benger,  lacks the sheer quality of Tully's work.

Copyright: Jon Bayliss


T. Phillipps, Aubrey's collections for Wilts, (1821),  22-25 (accessed as ).

J. Bayliss, 'Flouds are due unto this stone: English Verse epitaphs at Alderton, Wiltshire', Ecclesiology Today, 43 (2010),  83-91.

W. Lack, H.M.Stuchfield, P. Whittemore, the Monumental Brasses of Cheshire (1996), 60-61.

Thomas Randolph's verse commemorating the wife of a friend 'An Epitaph upon Mistress I. T.' was first published in 1638 following Randolph's early death in 1634/5. Its opening couplet was one that inspired similar, if usually somewhat inferior, funeral verse between 1638 and the late eighteenth-century.  Randolph began his verse

Reader if thou hast a teare,

Thou canst not choose but pay it here.

The author of an epitaph cut on the black marble slab of Richard Davies, died 1639, at Brailes, Warwickshire, changed 'pay' to 'spend' before continuing in his own vein but the brass to Martha, wife of Peter Bennet, alderman of Chester, repeats the first eight lines of Randolph's verse unchanged as her epitaph following her death in 1688. The brass of Lydia Gore, who died on 3rd January 1654/5 has eighteen lines of verse that evidently took its inspiration from Randoph's verse.

Reader, if thou hast a teare

Doe not grudge to drop it here.

Thinke not it can fall alone,

Flouds are due unto this stone;

Here lies (ah how that word does pierce.

And double blacks the mournfull herse)

Vertue's faire copie Heaven's Delight,

Not fitt for mens but Angels sight.

In whose pure brest sweete Innocence

(Exil'd by most) found sure defence.

Where no Black thought, the sire of shame

(Charm'd by her Vertues' Magick) came .

Lov'd by the Rich, the poore did blesse

Her as their Soveraigne Almonesse  

Wife, Mother, Friend, better no Age

E're showed up on the world's Stage.

Then Reader if thou hast a teare

Canst thou chuse but drop it here.