Brass of the Month

Copyright © 2013 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 04 March 2015

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

This large and splendid brass was made in London by the 'London B' workshop after the death of Sir John Phelip in 1415. He died ten days after the successful conclusion of the siege of Harfleur, most likely of dysentery, which carried of many other English troops at the time. Maud Harcourt married Sir John between 1407, the date of death of her first husband, Walter Cookesey, and 1409 but died in 1414. Shortly before his death Sir John had married for a third time, as her first husband, Alice Chaucer, the granddaughter of the poet and daughter of the very wealthy Thomas Chaucer, when she was but eleven years old. She outlived him by sixty years and died as Duchess of Suffolk. Sir John, a younger son of a Suffolk family and a nephew of Sir Thomas Erpingham KG, came to prominence once Henry V succeeded to the throne in 1413 but did not live to enjoy his new status for very long and  left no issue.

    Walter Cookesey and Maud Harcourt had two children, Hugh, who has an alabaster effigy on a tomb in the same church, and Joyce Beauchamp, also buried there, who has a large canopied freestone monument with her effigy and some interesting but damaged religious carvings. Walter had outlived his own father by only two years, suggesting that he was relatively young when he died.

The inscription is mainly concerned with Sir John and is a form of rhyming Latin hexameter.

Miles honorificus· John Phelip subiacet astus:

Henricus quintus· dilexerat hunc ut amicus:

Consepelitur ei· sua sponsa Matildis amata:

Waltero Cookesey· prius Armigero sociata:

Audax et fortis: apud Harffleu John bene gessit:

Et Baro vim mortis· patiens migrare recessit:

M. C. quarter x. v: Octobris luce secunda:

Sit suus alme Jesu: tibi spiritus hostia munda:

A board near the brass has this translation :

The honourable Knight John Phelip lies buried within.

As a friend Henry V esteemed this man.

Buried with him is his beloved wife Matilda

Previously married to Walter Cookesey esquire.

Bold and strong , John fought well at Harfleur

And suffering the way of death, this newly-made Baron withdrew to depart hence

On the second day of October 1415.

May his spirit be a fitting sacrifice to thee, O gracious Jesu.

This version relies on Nash's suggestion that 'vim' is a abbreviation of 'viam' although there is no sign that the word is abbreviated on the inscription. Another board explains that the brass suffered heavy wear when it was in the centre of the chancel but was moved after the matrix of the original slab broke up. In 1973 George Pace, the architect, advised that the stone be replaced by slate. Dick Reid of York undertook to reset the brass in Blue Burlington slate and it was placed in its present position towards the east end of the north aisle in December 1977.  Some of the missing pieces are indicated but others, such as the side-shafts of the canopy are not, although the shape of the bases can be seen at either end of the inscription. The worst wear to the brass is on the centre, which is occupied by the figure of Maud.

September 2013 - Maud Harcourt and two husbands, Walter Cookesey and Sir John Phelip, 1415, Kidderminster , Worcestershire


For a more extensive biography of Sir John, see