Wool merchants

Linwood, Lincolnshire

I had a quick trip on Saturday to the church of St Cornelius at Linwood, near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. The church contains two of the finest early fifteenth century monumental brasses in the county. Sadly they are little neglected and covered in bat droppings.

The first is a double brass to a civilian and his wife and the second is a single brass of a male civilian (above), all three figures are set under elaborate ogee canopies. The brasses commemorate John Lyndewode senior who died 1419 and his wife, and their son John Lyndewode junior who died in 1421. John senior (below top) is portrayed as a man in middle age with thinning hair and modest dress, while his son John junior (below bottom) is shown as a younger man with a fashionable haircut, a fancy gown and elaborate belt.

Linwood, Lincolnshire Linwood, Lincolnshire

I am not expert on monumental brass typology, but the brasses are clearly the product of the same workshop and given the closeness between the death of father and son, they were probably laid down at the same time. Given that they are set into slabs of Purbeck marble, they were probably made in London or the South East. I’m sure one of my readers will be able to tell me what classification they are given.

The brass of John Lyndewode senior and his wife has some interesting features. At the base of the brass is a verse inscription in low relief. Above that are figures of the seven children born to the couple, each set under an individual canopy. To the left are three male figures in civilian dress, to the right three female figures. In the centre is a male cleric dressed in a cope. This last figure almost certainly represents John Lyndewode’s son William Lyndewode (1375-1446). William Lyndewode was a high flying cleric, who became bishop of St David’s in 1442 and was also keeper of the Privy Seal He was the most prominent canon lawyer of his day and compiled the important canon law text Constitutiones provinciales ecclesiae Anglicanae.

Linwood, Lincolnshire

John Lyndewode senior was a wool merchant and he is stood, appropriately enough, on his own product, a neatly stitched-up woolsack. Unlike this high-flying cleric brother, John Lyndwode junior, followed his father into the family firm and on his brass, he too is perched on top of a woolsack.

Linwood, Lincolnshire

John junior’s woolsack is a little more elaborate than that of his father, and is decorated with the family trademark, which would have been applied to the sacks before they were exported to the continent via Calais. An early example of corporate branding.

Postscript
Here is another example of a merchant balancing on his merchandise, this is John Fortey (many thanks John for noticing my misappropriation) at Northleach in Gloucestershire. He has one foot resting on a sheep and another on a woolsack.

The monumental brass society has a link to one or two further examples.

5 thoughts on “Wool merchants

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  1. The difference in fashion between images, though no apparent attempt is made to delineate individual facial features, is an interesting feature of the brasses. The design of a brass was perhaps selected from a pattern book, elements mixed and matched, at this date? Connection to Lyndewode of the Constitutions, and image of same, is interesting. Bat-poop clearly has a degrading effect on latten. A sheet of cardboard would be better than nothing. Not to mention what appears to be a healthy colony of moss on the floor by the image in your first scan.

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  2. The Linwood brasses are products of the London D school of engraving and very fine they are too. They seem to have been cleaned up a bit since my visit about 18 months ago: they were totally covered in bat sh*t then!The Northleach brass is actually that to John Fortey, 1458 (London B work).

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  3. Thanks for the tip about the trademark for which I’ll look when I next call. I alsways enjoy this church for both the brasses and for details in the much more recent windows including the a St Mary Magdalen with wonderful hair and a St George with what appears to be the face of the soldier the window commemorates.

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