Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Anne Urswick
  • Creator:
  • Description: The brass on the tomb of Lady Anne Urswick reveals how a medieval woman went about establishing her status. She is adorned in elaborate contemporary fashions, with a butterfly headdress, jeweled collar necklace, fitted corset, and plucked forehead. As the daughter of a wealthy London merchant, she acquired a higher status through her marriage to Sir Thomas Urswick, a powerful political figure who was appointed chief baron of the exchequer and recorder of London. One later author compared Anne Urswick's representation to the prioress of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, writing, “’She hadde a fayre forehead almost a spanne brode I trow’ and the lofty brow and noble countenance of Lady Urswick attract immediate attention from the spectator.”

    Lady Anne and her second husband, John Palmer, made at least one claim for rights to Sir Thomas’s extensive estates. The issue of inheritance was especially important to Lady Anne because her first husband’s heirs were his five daughters who needed dowries. All four of her sons had preceded their father in death. Lady Anne remarried in 1482, following her husband’s death in 1479, and consequently gained more wealth. She inherited a manor in Kent and a substantial annual income upon her second husband’s death. Her effigy, which was set in place alongside Sir Thomas’ tomb in St. Peter and St. Paul Church, immortalized her notable style and beauty.

  • Source: Private collection
  • Rights: Permission of the collectors
  • Subject (See Also): Brass Rubbing Fashion Nobility Tomb Effigies
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 15
  • Date: 1482
  • Related Work: Brass rubbing of Thomas Urswick in the Haverford College collection:
    Photograph of the Urswick tomb: showing all the family members in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul at Dagenham:
    Photograph of the tomb chest:
    Brass rubbing of the figures on the Urswick tomb:
  • Current Location: Private collection
  • Original Location: Dagenham, Essex, England. Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
  • Artistic Type (Category): Brass rubbing
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Heelball; Paper
  • Donor:
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): 27.94 cm/66.04 cm/
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources: Brass Rubbings Collection. Hamline University. http://www.hamline.edu/ brass-rubbings/ Accessed 2016;
    British History Online. A Table of the Recorders of London. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/new-history-london/pp893-894 Accessed 2016;
    Hutchinson, Robert. “’Tombs of brass are spent’: Reformation Reuse of Monumental Brasses.” In The Archaeology of Reformation 1480–1580, edited by David Gaimster and Roberta Gilchrist. Maney, 2003. Pages 450-468.