East Sussex Church Monuments - 1530 to 1830 - Archive of Photographs
by Professor Nigel Llewellyn

(281) WEST FIRLE, St. Peter

12th-century North door, 13th-century chancel, 16th-century Gage chapel with late Perpendicular arcade - Nairn & Pevsner (623); for views see BL Add. MS 5676 f.79; 5671 ff.90-91; for a plan see SNQ VII 117; the parish had c.100 communicants in 1603, with an additional high number (17) of recusants, see Renshaw (Ecclesiastical Returns); in 1724 it was reported that the chancel was being damaged by a collapsed vault, the repairs the responsibility of Thomas Chowne (see 4B, D) (Ford); there were 34 families in 1724 and a population of 494 in 1801; monuments dominated by the remarkable series commissioned from Garret Johnson by John Gage in 1595 to himself and his ancestors and so unusually documented in the Gage archives - first published in SNQ (II 175-77), then in Esdaile, 'The Gage Monuments at Firle and their Author' (SNQ VIII 1940-41 162-4); the Firle archive is on deposit at East Sussex Record Office; the Gages originated in Gloucestershire and were established at Firle by end of the 1400s; the travails of the unfixed brasses are told in SNQ (II 215-16); when Haines saw the set in 1821 they were in a chest in the church, probably in the family chapel, as in Horsfield's day (Sussex I 338); having gone missing in 1860 (T Waveing, 'Notes on a brass-rubbing tour in West Sussex' in Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society II 296) the set was found at Firle Place c.1895 in various lumber rooms, including brasses for Eleanor Bolne, wife to Sir John Gage II and her two daughters Mary and Elizabeth; as Stephenson points out, the death dates given on the brasses made in 1595-1600 (281B-F), refer to the husband only in each case, although they use the formulation, 'qui obierunt'; the Gages seem to have contacted the maker, Johnson, via their close contacts with the Montagus (White 67 & pls 13-20); Anthony, Viscount Montagu ordered a tomb from Johnson in his will, this was erected at Easebourne in West Sussex c.1593; Montagu was the father-in-law of the Earl of Southampton, whose executors (including Sir John Gage) ordered another monument, also from Johnson, for Titchfield, Hants in c.1594; Montagu's mother was the daughter of Sir John Gage (281F), whose own executor was another Gage, Edward of Bentley, whose tomb is at Framfield (110I).

281A Mural monument for Richard MORTON, d. 1784, and his mother, Annabella TAYLOR, d. 1774

-  West chapel, North wall.

-  65(W) x 115(H)~Good.

-  M.I. (12 lines, engraved) on an unframed oval plaque in dark grey slate; on a white marble bracket with foliate decoration.

-  Rev. Richard Morton, A.M., d. 27 Jun 1784, aet 61; also, Annabella Taylor, 1687-1774, daughter of William Moreton, D.D., bishop of Meath.

281B Brasses, probably for George GAGE and his family, made in the later 1590s

-  North-East chapel, West wall, to North of door.

-  Arms: 21(W) x 24(H); Lower M.I.: 57(W) x 6(H): Upper M.I.: 15(W) x 7(H); Figure: 68(H)~Fine (upper M.I. - damaged to right); some colour.

-  4 engraved brass plates, evidently a set, on a modern stone slab; a male armoured figure in armour; a rectangular plate of arms and 2 plates with M.I.s.

281C Brasses for Thomas and Elizabeth GAGE, both d. 1590

-  North-East chapel, West wall, to South of door.

-  Male: 64(H); Female: 62(H); M.I.: 52(W) x 13(H); Kneeling daughters: 26(W) x 21(H); Male arms: 21(W) x 25(H); Female arms: 15(W) x 17(H)~Fine.

-  6 engraved brass plates, probably a set, on a modern stone slab; standing male and female figures, both with arms over; with her, below, a pair of smaller kneeling figures and a M.I.

-  Thomas Gage, armiger, and Elizabeth Gage, both d. 1590; son John and daughters Mary and Elizabeth (unnamed on 281C).

281D Wall tomb for John GAGE, d. 1598, and his wives Elizabeth and Margaret

-  North-East chapel, against North wall, North-West corner.

-  Tomb chest: 214(W) x 82(D) x 109(H); Arch: 195(H); Plate with 3 brass figures: 78(L); Wall-mounted arms: 25(W) x 30(H); M.I.: 48(W) x 14(H); Shields of arms: 21(W) x 26(H)~Very good.

-  A tomb-chest of alabaster and raunce set into a shallow niche with a semi-circular arch over; on the back wall, 4 brass plates; on the surface of the tomb-chest a chamfered slab with 3 brass figures set into its surface; on the face of the chest, simple pilasters and rosettes; M.I. in Latin (engraved, black) in a frieze, under the top slab and on the central pilaster.

281E Wall tomb for Sir Edward GAGE, d. 1569, and his wife Elizabeth, made after 1595

-  North-East chapel, against North wall, North-East corner.

-  Tomb-chest: 210(W) x 71(D) x 108 (H); Brass figures: 116(L); Heraldic brass on left: 24(W) x 30 (H); Heraldic brass on right: 22(W) x 26 (H); M.I.: 48(W) x 11 (H)~Very good.

-  For description see 281D.

281F Tomb-chest for Sir John GAGE, d. 1556, and his wife Philippa made in the late 1590s

-  North-East chapel, projecting from the East wall, South-East corner.

-  Tomb-chest: 217(L) x 126(W) x 104(H of mat from floor)~Very good; local losses (chest panelling).

-  Attached by its short end to the East wall of the chapel, a tomb-chest supports 2 full-length effigies; above, on the wall, a stone panel with fluted pilasters, a moulded base, cornice around a circular brass shield & M.I. (engraved) on a rectangular panel; on the tomb-chest, effigies with hands clasped in prayer; Sir John Gage lies to the North side with heraldic supporters at their feet; chest has a gadrooned top edge, alabaster panels with M.I.s; additional heraldic brasses set into the West end. Several M.I.'s, including the text from Job XIX v.25, as in 281D-E.

-  John Gage, 1479 - 18 Apr 1556 [some say 1557], Order of Garter, Constable of the Tower of London, Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Chamberlain to Queen Mary I, Privy Councillor to Mary and Phillip.

281G Brass for Mary HOWARD, d. 1638

-  Nave floor, East end, near North arcade.

-  (1 Base): 83(W) x 103(H) ; (2 brass with M.I.): 52(W) x 27(H); (3 figural brass) 19(W) x 45(H)~Fine.

-  2 brasses on a stone slab; the upper with a shrouded corpse (engraved); the lower with M.I. (8 lines, engraved).

-  Mary Howard, died at Firle, 28 Jan 1638, aet 36; daughter of William, Lord Eure; and wife ( almost 18 years) of Sir William Howard, eldest son of Sir Philip Howard, who was son of Lord William Howard, who was youngest son of the Duke of Norfolk.

281H Brass for Alice LEVETT, d. 1676

-  Nave floor, East end, near South arcade.

-  Base: 84 x 84; Brass: 49(W) x 18(H)~Fine.

-  A small engraved brass on a large stone slab.