Annesley Church. Note on the Brass of William Breton, 1595.
By the late Mr. A. E. Frost.
THIS brass is in many respects unique and possesses features of special interest. Taken as a whole it falls into a class of brasses that illustrate incident; such brasses are by no means common. The brass represents William Breton on a hunting expedition accompanied by his hound. He is habited in a long skirted coat with tight fitting breeches and I should suppose hose, (but unfortunately the brass is in but an indifferent condition and some of the details are not quite clear), boots and a stiff felt hat. The hat is very similar to that sometimes represented on brasses as worn by ladies of this period. In his left hand he carries a long bow, a weapon much used in the chase even in the days when firearms were becoming generally used, on account of its silent discharge. In his right hand he holds an arrow which he is about to fit to the bow. Three other arrows are shown stuck through his belt. On the left side he carries a curved, broad-bladed couteau-de-chase, and on a long leash, also attached to his belt, is his dog. One naturally compares this brass with that to John Selwyn, 1587, at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, who was "gent' keeper to her Matis Parke of Oteland," who, on a separate plate between the figure of himself and wife, is represented seated on a stag which he is about to kill with his hunting sword. He is dressed in precisely the same manner as Breton with the exception of the hat, which, in Selwyn's case, has a flat crown. This costume was evidently that of a huntsman, as contemporary brasses to civilians show the ordinary dress which is entirely different. The representation of the long bow is also of interest. I can call to mind no other example in which the principal figure is shown armed with this weapon. Other brasses to hunters are at Baldock, Herts., c. 1420, and Hunsdon, Herts., 1591, to James Grey.