The church has some wonderful pictures in
its windows and on its walls, the latter painted perhaps 700
years ago, and stained glass by Continental artists of the16th
century. They are all, of course, in this charming church,
watched over by a mellow red tower about 300 years old. We enter
it by a 15th century doorway with a door on two hinges older
The most interesting wall-picture is the 13th century one of
Becket's martyrdom, showing him on his knees with a suggestion of
the faithful Grim behind him, trying with outstretched arms to
protect his master. Painted about 50 years after the martyrdom
took place, this picture is remarkable and valuable for the
accuracy of its detail, the four murderers having shields which
are very early examples of heraldry, one showing the muzzled bear
of the treacherous Reginald FitzUrse. It is a vivid and awful
scene, simply drawn, with one sword cleaving Becket's skull and
another viciously driving its point in.
Facing it is a faded 15th century picture of St Christopher, with
a little photograph beside it taken before it had faded. We can
still make out curious fishes in the stream, and two mermaids,
one of whom is obviously distressed because a young angler on the
bank has hooked her by the tail. A bearded hermit on the bank is
holding a lantern to light the way.
On a wall profusely decorated with masonry patterns, flowers, and
graceful spirals, are two more 13th century pictures, a tall
bearded man with a staff, and the Madonna with her Child on her
knee. Fixed over these when we called were very clear copies of
the originals in the same colours, and there was an excellent
copy of the Becket picture elsewhere in the church.
The old glass is beautiful still. At the top of a window in the
nave are 15th century crowns, radiant heraldic suns, and the
feathers of the Prince of Walesdevices suggesting that the
window was perhaps set up in celebration of the Yorkist victory
at Tewkesbury. Below are 14th century coats-of-arms and
exquisitely drawn little figuresthree musicians with
violin, pipe, tabor, and tambourine; three men with halos; and a
woman with a Crown of Thorns in her hand, standing on a fallen
king. The same window has a few rich fragments among which we see
a fish on a dish.
The great pageant of colour in Bramley is in the big south window
of its Brocas chapel, filled with lovely 16th century glass. It
is the work of Flemish craftsmen, and was saved from the
destruction of the Civil War by being buried in the moat at
Beaurepaire House, the ancient home of the Brocas family not far
away. The harmony of the colours is beautiful, a warm gold
running through it all, binding together the quiet blues, gentle
greens, and deep reds of the whole. The glass, arranged in our
time in memory of Henry Welch Thornton, has a row of three Bible
pictures at the top, showing the finding of the coin in the
fish's mouth, the visit of the Shepherds, and St John writing
Revelation with his eagle at his side. Then comes a row of five
charming medallions, one with St Martin on horseback dividing his
cloak with the beggar, another with Death and Time on either side
of a tree, and a third with the Holy Family. Ten panels show
Gideon and the Fleece, David and Goliath, David's Coronation, the
healing of Naaman in the Jordan, Tobit and the Angel, the Birth
of the Madonna, the Visitation, the Crucifixion, St Benedict with
a monk, and a knight kneeling before John the Baptist. The knight
is golden-haired, and handsome in grey-blue armour and a short
coat with crescent moons on it. Among these big panels are many
small ones, one of them all gold, showing the Almighty creating
the World. At the bottom of all are three other panels with the
Holy Family, the Madonna and Child and St Anne, and Noah sleeping.
Two panels are filled with ancient fragments, and altogether it
is an astonishing window gallery.
On the floor of the chapel are the 16th century brass portraits
of Richard and Alys Carter, and of Gwen Shelford, who died in
1504 and has a long gown and a girdle fastened with three flowers.
In a glazed case on the wall are the oldest things we see in
Bramley Roman tiles found when a chancel window was
restored. With them are mediaeval tiles, pieces of alabaster, and
a fragment of oak from the Norman foundations of Winchester
Monument to Bernard Brocas
by Thomas Carter(?) 1777
The great centrepiece of the chapel is the 18th century marble
monument of Sir Bernard Brocas by Thomas Banks. He was, said Sir
Joshua Reynolds, the first English sculptor to do figures with
classic grace, and this figure appealed greatly to Mary Russel
Mitford when she visited Bramley and described its country games.
Sir Bernard, a stout man in drapery, expires in the arms of a
graceful lady who seems scarcely equal to the task of holding him.
At both ends of the monument there are figures carved in relief.
In the chancel is a marble tablet to Thomas Shaw, who died as
vicar here in 1751 after a life of many adventures, having been
out to Algiers as chaplain of an English factory there. He made
excursions to Carthage, Egypt, and Palestine, collecting plants,
coins, and antiquities, and four companies of Turkish soldiers
were needed to protect his caravan from wild Arabs.
The core of the church is Norman, and on the wall below one of
the three Norman windows is a i2th century consecration cross,
the oldest of all Bramley's paintings. The 13th century chancel
has a shaft piscina, a traceried 16th century screen, and lovely
17th century altar rails. There are some 16th century benches, a
Norman font with an old wooden cover, and an 18th century pulpit.
Also 18th century are the nave panelling and the panelled gallery
on fluted pillars. High up in the roof is a window cut before the
Reformation to light the rood. There are five mass dials on the