Brass of the Month

July 2008: Thomas Cod, 1465, Rochester St Margaret, Kent

July’s Brass of the Month usually resides in a hinged wooden frame on the east wall of the north aisle of the church of St Margaret of Antioch in Rochester, Kent. However it is not there at present as it is currently being conserved. The brass is palimpsest, i.e. it is engraved on both sides and the hinged frame allowed both sides to be viewed. Various vicissitudes overtook it in the nineteenth century and the metal is so thin that it can hardly support its own weight. As R..A..S. Macalister said when he spoke to the Society in 1891 (C.U.A.B.C. Transactions Vol. I, part 10, p. 11) “…it is now impossible to rub this brass as it has been enamelled, framed and glazed, and hung against the church wall”. At some stage the glazing was taken off, so removing some of the support, and when the brass was checked recently it was found to be in a very fragile condition. It has therefore been removed for conservation. What brought this about?

The brass is palimpsest due to a fifteenth-century mistake, either by Thomas Cod himself if he ordered it before his death, or by whoever commissioned the memorial. It was quite a serious blunder, enough to cause the brass to be turned over and a different version engraved on the reverse of the brass plate. This was because the priest it commemorates was depicted in the wrong vestments. Instead of being shown in the processional vestment the almuce, (figure 1) he was depicted in the Eucharistic vestment, the amice (figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Copyright: Les Smith

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Page last updated 06 April 2008

Figure 3 Figure 4