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North Stifford Village

St. Mary's Church Monumental Brasses


The following article has been reproduced by kind permission of the

Thurrock Local History Society

There are six monumental brasses. The oldest (Fig.1) lies in the floor of the sanctuary on the north side. It is a memorial to a medieval priest of the church, Rudolph Perchehay, and the inscription in Latin bids, 'Pray for the soul of Rudolph Perchehay, sometime rector of this church'. The figure measures 38cms. long and dates from c. 1380. William Palin, who was rector 1834-1882, describes the brass thus,'in Eucharistic vestments; viz., the chasuble, alb and amice, with the fylfot cross on the collar. The hair is rather long and flowing, the face good and expressive of character.' The fylfot cross was often used for decoration in the Middle Ages,

The next (Fig.2) is to John Ardalle and Ann his wife, 1504. The figures are 46cms. long and the inscription reads:
'Of youre charite pray for the soulle of John Ardalle gentylman sutym lord of Stifford and Ann his wyfe which John decesid the last day of May, the yere of oure lord MCCCCCIIII, and for his fader soulle and his moder soulle and all crystyn soullys; on whose soullys ihu (Jesus) have mercy, amen.'

The brass was moved in the 19th century from the floor of the chantry to the South Chapel beneath the lancet windows. John Ardalle is in civil costume edged with fur and his ornamented waist belt has a purse attached to it. His wife wears the usual costume of the time with a long enriched waist-band.

There are four shields of arms (Fig. 2a). The upper dexter bears a chevron. The upper sinister bears a chevron between three estoiles - Ardalle of Essex. The lower dexter bears three bulls' heads couped. The lower sinister, a lion rampant between nine cross crosslets.

To the right of John Ardalle on the wall of the South Chapel is a later brass which was placed there from its original position near the east end of the chantry floor. It is to Ann Lathum (Fig3) who died in 1627 at the early age of seventeen. The figure, which is 32cms. long, is above a poignant inscription which reads: 'Here under lyeth the body of Ann Lathum y daughter of Thomas Lathum of Stifford gent. who died the 25 daye of December 1627 in y 17 yeares of her age.

Behold in me the life of man
Compared by David to a span
Who in strength death cal'd away
Before the middle of my daye.
Let friends and parents weepe no more
Her's all the odds I went before.
And let them sone their lives amend
that death may be a welcombe friend.'

Palin describes her as wearing the ordinary pelisse, with a long stomacher and over it a kind of cloak without sleeves., the head-dress is something like the Queen of Scots pattern, showing short flowing hair on each side of the face. The shoes are extremely small.'

Ann was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Lathum. Elizabeth was to die 3 years after her daughter's short life had ended as can be seen by her brass which is now next to Ann's. The figure is 34 cms. high (Fig 4). 'She wears a long stomacher and skirt, fastened by bows down the front. The head-dress consists of a handkerchief thrown over the head and falling down the back and shoulders showing short wavy hair at each side of the face; round the neck is a large ruff.'

From the inscription Elizabeth died at the age of thirty-seven which again seems a short span these days,
There is a reference in the verse beneath the figure to the sentiments expressed on her daughter's memorial: 'Here under lyeth the bodie of Elizabeth Lathum the wife of Thomas Lathum of Stifford gent. Who dyed the 14th day of Septem. 1630, in the 37 yeare of her age.

Yet once again behold and see
The frayletie of this life in me
And as t'was sayd to me before
Let friends and parents weepe no more
So I may now the phrase returne
Let children all forbeare to mourne
And let them all in love remayne
And be prepar'd Heaven to attayne.'

The brass to the right of Elizabeth Lathum commemorates more members of the Lathum family. William Lathum and Susan, his wife (Fig 5). The figures are 47 cms high and again Willian Palin describes them thus, 'William, on the dexter side, wears a merchant's cloak lined with fur. His hair and moustache are moderately short; his beard is longer and pointed; his feet are small.

Susan wears a very long-waisted stomacher and fardingdale, and a kind of cloak falling down the back and having long pendants at the shoulders. She wears a rather high-crowned hat with a twisted handkerchief round the crown.' The inscription reads:

Here under lyeth y bodyes of Willian Lathum
gent late Lord of Stifford & Susan his wife
which sayd William was y sone of Thomas
Lathum of Northokendon Esq deceased
who was y sone & heire of Rob. Lathum
deceased who maried y daughter & heire
of John Ardalle deceased sometime Lord
of Stifford, & y sayd Will. dyed y 6th
day of Decemb An Dni 1622 & y sayd Susan
was y daughter of Symon Sampson of Carsey
in y countie of Suffolk Esquire deceased
which y sayd Susan dyed y 26 of Aug An Dni 1621.



Above them are three shields of arms (Fig. 5a).

1 . The Lathum and Ardalle arms quarterly with a crescent for difference. (Difference or cadency is a system used in heraldry to distinguish similar coats of arms.) A crescent usually denotes the second son.

3. This shield bears a cross bottonny between 4 escallops.

2. The centre shield is impaled with the other two coats.

As can be seen. the shield 1. shows the incorporation of the Ardalle shield with the Lathum shield. This occurred when Thomasine, daughter of John Ardalle (Fig.2), married Robert Lathum, second son of Hugh Lathum of North Ockendon and brought him the estate of Stifford.

The last brass in the church is a shrouded Priest c.1500 (Fig.6), who is shown holding a heart. The figure is 50cms. long in the floor of the west end of the nave. It is very badly worn and originally had a scroll above the head and a plate at the feet but only the indents remain. A drawing (Fig. 6a) shows the head and held heart. The heart is inscribed with MCY (mercy). Shrouded effigies became very popular in the middle 15th century but evidently priests were not often shown thus.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 2a

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 5a

Fig. 6