TF2157 : Brass of Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell, Holy Trinity, Tattershall

taken 9 years ago, near to Tattershall, Lincolnshire, Great Britain

Brass of Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell, Holy Trinity, Tattershall
Brass of Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell, Holy Trinity, Tattershall
Ralph established Tattershall College at the zenith of his glittering political career. Born c.1394, he came from a Nottinghamshire family which had steadily increased its wealth and influence by a series of marriages to heiresses. He fought at Agincourt in 1415. Despite succeeding as Baron Cromwell on his father’s death in 1416/17, he continued to serve Henry V in France, acting as one of the commissioners negotiating the Peace of Troves in 1420. On his return, Ralph received his first summons to Parliament. On Henry V’s death in 1422, he was made a member of the council of Regency and the following year was appointed to the King’s Council. He was also appointed Master of the King’s Mews and Falcons in 1436 and Constable of Nottingham Castle and Warden of Sherwood Forest in 1445. He held the post of Lord High Treasurer from 1433 to 1443 but retained his membership of the King’s Council, with two short breaks, until his death at Collyweston in January 1455/6.
By 1424 Ralph married Margaret, daughter of John, Lord Deincourt. This alliance brought Ralph considerable wealth, but was childless. Perhaps the extinction of the direct line is partly why he established the collegiate foundation to perpetuate the Cromwell family name. He also reconstructed Tattershall Castle, built a manor house at South Wingfield and Collyweston, and funded work on churches at Randby, and others. At Randby, there was formerly an inscription to him reading: Orate pro anima Domini Radulphi Crumwell qui incipit hoc opus Anno Domini 1450 (Pray for the soul of Ralph, Lord Cromwell, who began this work AD 1450). Similar prayers for Ralph and Margaret adorned the glazing at Tatterhall. He left his legacy in stone, brass and glass, rather than flesh and blood.
Sadly Ralph’s brass is mutilated, though its original state is shown in an antiquarian drawing at Revesby Abbey library. The composition features 60 inches high figures of Ralph and Margaret under a complex triple canopy. The shield above his head bore the arms of Cromwell quartering Tattershall, for Ralph’s descent, and that above Margaret’s head bore Deincourt, for her family. The shield between the pair bore Cromwell quartering Tattershall and impaling Deincourt, to represent their marriage alliance.
In the canopy sideshafts were saints, on the left, from the top down, were Ss. Sebastian, George, Eustace, Maurice, and Candidus. On the right were Ss. Peter, Thomas of Canterbury, the Virgin and child, John the Baptist and Anne.
Though part of the inscription is lost, the full text reads (in latin):
"Here lies that noble Baron, Ralph Cromwell, knight, Lord Cromwell, former treasurer of England, and founder of this college; together with his consort Margaret, daughter and co-heiress of Lord Dayncourt; the which Ralph died on 4th of January, AD 1455, and the said Margaret died on 15th September AD 1454; on whose souls may God have mercy Amen".
Ralph wears armour and a plain mantle fastened by a long cord kept in place by brooches at the shoulders. At Ralph’s feet is a pair of hairy wodehouses, or wild men, armed with clubs. Lady Margaret’s lost figure showed her in an ermine-trimmed sideless cotehardi and a mantle held by jewelled clasps. Two angels supported the pillow beneath her head and at her feet were a pair of pet dogs. She also wore a butterfly headdress, which did not become fashionable until a decade after her death.
Ralph’s executors delayed commissioning the brass until the chancel of his new church was complete. In his will he requested burial in the church until the whole fabric should be rebuilt, and then to be moved into the middle of the new choir. The choice of a brass was Ralph’s own. In a codicil he directed “my own tomb shall be of marble, with a picture of myself and one of Margaret my late wife set therein, made of brass and decently decorated, in the chancel of the said Collegiate Church of Tattershall, specifically on the north side of the chancel near the high altar, as I have arranged during my lifetime, and that the tomb shall be made and constructed level with the paving there”.
In his will Ralph also honoured his parents’ grave. He requested “that the parish church of Lambley, including its chancel, shall be completely rebuilt at my expense, and that a marble slab with two pictures in brass shall be prepared and laid decently over the grave of my father and mother”. Sadly, his parents’ brass does not survive. Ralph’s kin placed other important orders with the London D workshop around the mid 1470s. His niece, Maud, ordered her own monument to cover her intended grave at Tattershall. Maud’s sister, Joan, commissioned a brass to her husband, Humphrey Bourchier, who had died in 1471, remnants of which remain in Westminster Abbey.

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TF2157, 388 images   (more nearby search)
Contributed by
Julian P Guffogg   (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Saturday, 18 August, 2012   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 29 August, 2012
Geographical Context
Religious sites 
Church (from Tags)
Holy Trinity 
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Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 2120 5758 [10m precision]
WGS84: 53:6.0997N 0:11.4713W
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OSGB36: geotagged! TF 2120 5758
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NORTH (about 0 degrees)
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