Brass of the Month

Copyright © 2013 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 04 March 2015

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

October 2013 - George, son of Roger Townsend, c. 1505, East Raynham, Norfolk

The Townshend family has lived at Raynham for hundreds of years and is still going strong today. Raynham Hall, the family seat, is not far from the church of St Mary but the old hall was closer still. Surprisingly, there are only two surviving early memorials to the family in the church, possibly because the church was demolished and rebuilt in the 1860s. The fine Easter Sepulchre on the north side of the sanctuary commemorates  Lady Eleanor Townshend. She requested it her will in 1499, proved the following year. It was also intended for her husband Sir Roger, who had died a few years previously. It has the remains of a sculptural programme in the niches of the back panel but no brass on the marble slab on the tomb chest nor any sign that it ever had one. A modern inscription, below the tomb-chest, appears have been fitted in in the space left by a reduction in the height of the chancel floor but there is no sign that it replicates a lost original. The Rev Edmund Farrer in his Church Heraldry of Norfolk, published in the late 1880s, notes that there was no inscription. The brass of George, dating from about five years later, commemorates a son of Roger Townsend esquire, Sir Roger's son and heir. There is no indication on the inscription of the reason why he, rather than any other member of the family, should be remembered by a brass but he may have been his father's first born son. The brass was made in the very short-lived Norwich 5 workshop that operated around 1502 to 1506, enabling us to date his death quite closely. What is not known is how old he was when he died but he presumably survived infancy. He cannot have been very old as his grandmother was made his father's guardian by Sir Roger's will of 14 August 1492. With the contractions expanded his inscription reads:

Orate pro anima Georgii quondam filii Rogeri Townsend armigeri

Pray for the soul of George, sometime the son of Roger Townsend esquire  

The heraldry has quarterly 1. Townsend,  2. Haville, 3. Brewes and 4. Lunsford, impaling an illegible coat. His father has married Anne, daughter and co-heir of Sir William de Brewse and was himself knighted in 1525. He lived until the mid 1550s, outliving his eldest son John and John's eldest son Richard, leaving his great-grandson Roger as his heir. As he appointed his sons George and Thomas as his executors, it is apparent that he had named another son George, presumably after the death of the one remembered by the brass.

The other early sixteenth-century brass in the  church is also from a Norwich workshop and commemorates Robert Godfrey, LLB, a rector of Raynham St Mary, who died in 1522.  In the eighteenth-century there remained in the church brasses to Master William Silvester alias Candler, a priest, died 1471, John Cresner, gent, and John Townsend, son of Roger and Eleanor, died 1465.  


Detail of the brass of George Townsend


 The Easter Sepulchre at East Raynham