St Peter’s Church has a number of medieval monumental brasses which are over 500 years old. These brasses were deteriorating, either because they were damp and were suffering corrosion, or because they were in vulnerable places where people walked on them or put their belongings on top of them. With the help of the Friends of St Peter’s, these brasses have been carefully cleaned and mounted on cedar boards to protect them from damp and corrosion. Most of the newly restored brasses can be seen in the north aisle of St Peter’s.
Some of the brasses have a particular interest for the school. These are the brasses commemorating Robert and Katherine Incent who were the parents of Dean Incent, the founder of the school. Robert was secretary to Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, the last royal resident in Berkhamsted Castle and the mother of two kings – Edward IV and Richard III. Robert’s brass tells us that he ‘dyed of the grete swetyng sykenesse’ in 1485. If you watched the BBC TV drama Wolf Hall, this was the sickness that carried off Thomas Cromwell’s wife and children.
Also interesting is the brass commemorating John Waterhouse. It’s engraved on the reverse of an earlier brass commemorating a London goldsmith called Thomas Humfre. A replica of this earlier brass is now displayed alongside the Waterhouse brass.
The aisle wall is so uneven that it wasn’t possible to mount the brass of John Raven on it with the other newly conserved brasses, so he has returned to his place on the pillar in the St John’s Chantry where he is particularly appreciated by members of the church choir.
A fuller account of St Peter’s medieval brasses is in preparation and will be available in due course in the church and on this website.