Article on pages 19 - 23 of Dickon Independent issue 85

New DVD And Brass Rubbings

The DVD is “Batik Workshop: Fun with Paper and Fabric” by Rosi Robinson, produced by Studio Galli. What on earth (I hear you cry) has that got to do with Richard III? Well, a recent discovery has led to the startling claim that Richard III was a dab hand at batik and would spend hours producing his boar emblem on silk.

Seriously, the DVD features one of the brass rubbings done by Ralph Richardson. I’d taken photographs of them when on display at Tewkesbury and put them on the web site. Andrew Galli sent me an email asking if he could use an image on the DVD and Ralph was only too happy to oblige. I also sent Andrew some pictures of the brass in Ashby St Ledgers Church of William Catesby and his wife Margaret. Andrew said he would send a copy of the DVD when complete. I’d forgotten all about it until it arrived one day in August.

The two discs run for 4 hours in total. Rosi Robinson is a batik artist who lives and works in East Sussex. The first disc covers batik on paper and the second on fabric.

It’s on Disc 1 that you’ll find Ralph’s brass rubbing, after about 30 minutes. It is in the Paper Workshop: Rubbings on Hard Surfaces section. First you’ll see the brass of William Catesby, then his wife, then both together as a rubbing, followed by Ralph’s brass rubbing of Thomas Chaucer and his wife Matilda. At the very end of Disc 2, Ralph is credited and so is the branch.

The photograph of Ralph’s brass rubbing was taken at the Tewkesbury Medieval Fair and Battle Re-enactment on July 13 2002, hanging behind the Worcestershire Branch of the Richard III Society’s display in the main marquee. Our branch has a display there every year thanks to the Tewkesbury Battlefield Society who organise the annual fair and battle re-enactment.

The photograph shows Thomas Chaucer and his wife Matilda, buried in Ewelme Church in Oxfordshire. He died in 1434, and she died in 1436, and the brass dates from 1436.

Thomas is shown in typical armour of the first half of the fifteenth century, not unlike that of the Battle of Agincourt. The armour is neat and unfussy – very different from that of the end of the century. He has a close fitting steel hat over which he would have worn his jousting or battle helmet. This would have had a model of his crest (in this case a unicorn) – a mythical animal though it appears in medieval bestiaries as real. It still is believed in by some.

Matilda has a very close fitting gown with ornamental belt. She wears a mantle over all fastened across the shoulders. In some cases these mantles were heraldic, covered in shields, but not in this case because she is not showing off the back.

He was the (only?) son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer. He married Matilda daughter of John Burghersh of Ewelme.

They had a daughter Alice Chaucer who married William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk. So from her grandfather, a court officer, to top rank of aristocracy in three generations.

The Duke and Duchess of Suffolk founded the Ewelme Hospital – almshouses rather than what we think of as a hospital. It is still operational and has its number of old people who have direct access to the church via their own private entrance – but you have to be able to climb stairs fairly well!

On this page are the photographs of the brasses of William Catesby and his wife Margaret used on the DVD, together with an image of them together as a brass rubbing.

I had photographs of Ralph’s other brass rubbings but none of them were as clear as the one chosen, but I thought I would include them all in this article anyway.

This was also taken on 13 July 2002 at Tewkesbury and shows Sir William Vernon and Margaret his wife. It dates from 1467 and is in St Bartholomew’s Church, Tong, Shropshire. Sir William was born at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire.

He was the last Knight Constable of England, who would have taken over battle responsibility at Agincourt if Henry V had died. The post was abolished because of the power it could have provided.

This one was taken at Tewkesbury on 10 July 2004 and shows John Lethenard and Joan his wife - John in civilian dress - in St James’ Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, dating from 1467. He was a very wealthy wool merchant.

Sir Thomas Foljambe died 1358 (original date of the brass.) 1875 is the date of the present brass in St John the Baptist Church, Tideswell, Derbyshire. Photo also taken at Tewkesbury on 10 July 2004.

Finally, this one taken 10 July 2004 shows the brass of Joan Stanhope, widow of Humphrey Bourchier, Lord Cromwell. So she is best referred to as Joan, Lady Cromwell. She died in 1479. The brass is in Holy Trinity Church, Tattersall, Lincolnshire.

She oddly wears her hair long - the sign of an unmarried girl. I think by the time this brass was made she had had three husbands. Her Cromwell husband was a significant courtier in the first half of the century. He built Tattersall Castle (impressive but hardly siege worthy: one of the earliest major brick buildings in England). He built a very splendid parish church inside his castle and provided for a college of priests to pray for his soul. Castle, church and college are all still there and used.

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