Friday, 29 May 2015

The Armour of Sir Thomas Cheddar 1443.

Whilst on holiday in Somerset in 2009 I happened across the church at Cheddar. Most visitors to Cheddar are drawn to the gorge and its impressive caves but situated beyond this is the Parish Church, which is dedicated to St. Andrew. 

Within the church, on the left hand side of the chancel under a decorated canopy is the tomb of Sir Thomas de Chedder (d.1443), a wealthy Bristol merchant.   On the floor is the brass of his widow, Lady Isabel de Chedder (d.1476) dressed in wimple and widow’s weeds.  Unfortunately The inscriptions and shields on both brasses are missing.

Born in 1398 East Harptree, Somerset, England. Sir Thomas' daughter Joan married John Talbot, 1st Baron Lisle and 1st Viscount Lisle (1426-1453). 

Sir Thomas' brass depicts a typical knight of the early to mid 15th century. He is dressed in plate armour that completely covers his body, his head being protected by a Great bascinet that has a gorget that surrounds his neck.

Sir Thomas

The great bascinet with its gorget was developed from the 1420's onward, it was a direct result of the inefficiency of the earlier maille aventail to stop the armour piercing arrowhead known as the bodkin.The bodkin was narrow enough to pass through and split the maille rings which could cause severe damage to the neck and upper shoulders. Earlier gorgets simply fixed above the aventail via two rivets at the base of the bascinet, this design used the original helmet and maille but did not protect the sides or back of the neck. A separate gorget was needed that encircled the neck and versions of this style can be seen on effigies and brasses across the country, The design at this stage still incorporated the maille aventail, simply covering it up.

Read more about Henry V and the Damage done by Arrows here.
Sir Thomas' gorget is the final stage whereby the maille is discarded and the breastplate and arm protection is designed designed to fit beneath it.

Read more about the bascinet here 

 The arm protection involves a series of plates that envelope the top of the arm and shoulder, the top terminates at the gorget. The armpit is protected by a Besagew. This plate was popular in the previous century then went out of fashion only to return during this period.   

The cuirass consists of a breastplate and backplate with a fauld of eight lames that covered the hips, groin, buttocks and upper thighs. Front and rear would have been held together with a series of hinges down the left and buckled straps down the right.

See my SN markers illustration of a 1450's harness here.

The legs were protected by Cuisse, Poleyn and Greaves. The design being very similar to the previous century.

My own Great basinet armour.

The cuisse consisted of a large plate that protected the front of the thigh which was fixed via hinges to one or two further plates that ran around the side of the leg. The poleyn, which protected the knee was fixed to the cuisse via rivets and articulation lames. (In Sir Thomas' this is a single plate). Beneath the poleyn was a further articulation lame and a larger plate which rested on the greave,

The greave protected the leg and consisted of two plates, front and rear which joined via hinges on the outer face and buckled strap on the inner. In Sir Thomas' case the buckles are not shown which could be artistic licence but is more likely to be a stud and hole fixing method. 

Feet were protected by pointed Sabatons and Sir Thomas' have small plates that follow up underneath the ankle section of the greaves.

The sabatons would have been hinged at the heal to allow access. The spurs bend around the bottom of the greaves.

The Sword is slender and would have had a diamond cross sectioned blade, during this period slashing cuts were useless against armour which gave rise to that narrow blade which could be stabbed into joints or chinks in the armour.

See more of my illustrations here.

To see my costumes and armour click here.