Brass of the Month

July 2005: Little Plumstead, Norfolk, 1565

July's brass of the month, laid at the east end of the chancel floor at Little Plumstead, Norfolk commemorates Sir Edward Warner d. 1565.  It is a large, impressive brass from the London G workshop.  Sir Edward is shown as a knight in his later years, with the long beard and short hair fashionable for Elizabethan men. The inscription tells us that he was 54 when he died.

Sir Edward Warner lived through the political and religious upheavals of the reigns of Henry VIII, Mary I, Edward VI and died in the reign of Elizabeth I.  He was a court official whose fortunes changed depending on the faction that held power at the time. He was imprisoned in the tower during Henry VIII’s reign, but when he returned to the tower in 1561 it was as inquisitor of Katherine Seymour.  In 1549 Edward acted as Marshall of the Field during the suppression of the peasant’s revolt in Norfolk that was known as Kett’s Rebellion.

Sir Edward wears plate armour with a mail skirt and tassets strapped over the thighs.  There are broad toed sabatons on his feet, which rest on a hound crouching on a grassy mound. Symmetrical haute pieces rise from the pauldrons to protect the neck.  Rivets or straps are shown at the articulated sections of armour.  Above his head is the Warner achievement with the motto “Go straight & feare not” and either side of the figure, at head height, are shields helpfully named “Warner and Cobham” and “Warner and Hare” on the scrolls below each.  The reason for these is explained in the third line of the foot inscription: “His wyves also by armes yowe see apere”.

 The representation of bareheaded knights with head resting on a helm and feet on a beast or mound has been shown on brasses since the early 14th century (compare the famous brass to  Sir Roger de Trumpington, at  Trumpington Cambs).  A 15th century example is the brass to Sir Thomas Stathum, which is shown as the April 2003 “Brass of the Month”.

 At the time of Sir Edward’s death the protestant faith had been re-established by Elizabeth I and comparison with the Thomas Stathum brass also shows how the London G designer has transformed the layout of saints and pray scrolls into heraldic displays.   


Copyright: Melvyn Paige-Hagg, 2005

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Page last updated 07 July 2005