Around the same time as the Golafre monument is the tomb of Archbishop Henry Chichele (died 1443) in Canterbury Cathedral. On the upper level Chichele is portrayed in full pontificals, while below in the openwork tomb chest he is portrayed in the grips of rigor-mortis. On the monument is the inscription: ‘I was a pauper born, then to primate here raised, now I am cut down and served up for worms … Whoever who may be who will pass by, I ask for your remembrance.’
A lot later is the similar monument to John Barton a wealthy wool merchant and self-made man, who died in 1491. He erected the monument during his lifetime, positioning it between the high altar and Lady altar of Holme-by-Newark church in Nottinghamshire, smack in front of where he sat to hear mass. In his will he asked to be buried in the novo monumento he had erected. On the top he is portrayed as a successful and pious businessman of advanced years, lying with his large purse and rosary beads beside the figure of his wife. Below is a wonderful ‘screaming’ corpse. On the side of the slab that supports the corpse a quote from Job 19 is carved: ‘have pity on me, you my friends, for the hand of the lord has touched me’ – The monument was obviously intended to be a momento mori for his friends and family.
For those with less disposable income cheaper versions of the transi tomb were available. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century shroud brasses proliferated, these portrayed the deceased in the attitude of prayer wrapped in their winding sheet. The brass of William Lenthall (died 1497) at Great Haseley, Oxfordshire is a fairly typical example.
Lenthall brass at Great Haseley in Oxfordshire
The most extreme development of this sort of image is perhaps the monumental brass commemorating the priest Ralph Hamsterley who died in 1518. He is portrayed as a skeletal figure wrapped in a shroud, being merrily munched by worms. Even his eyes are being devoured and they have got in between his ribs. Ralph was warden of Merton College Oxford and a pluralist. He had four of these brasses erected one over his grave in Merton and one in each of his livings, the one he erected in Oddington in Oxfordshire remains.
Lastly and equally grisly are the shrouded alabaster figures commemorating Thomas Beresford (died 1473) and his wife at Fenny Bentley in Derbyshire. Wrapped up with ties round their legs like overgrown chrysalises.