Brass of John Gygur, Holy Trinity, Tattershall, taken 5 years ago
All that remains of this brass is a superbly drawn and engraved figure of a priest 60 inches high, wearing processional vestments. Over his cassock and surplice he wears a cope, fastened by a large square worse decorated by a demi-figure of Christ in Glory, and having the orphreys embroidered with the 12 apostles, each under a canopy. On his head he wears a pointed pileus, indicating his status as an academic, thus suggesting the person commemorated was a Warden of Tattershall College. As there is no inscription, we cannot be certain whom the brass commemorates, but there are clues to his identity.
The brass is an early 16th century product of the London F workshop, based in St Paul’s churchyard and run by James Reamer. The surviving figure has been relaid in an appropriate slab, which shows the indent of an inscription beneath the figure. The original slab does not survive but it lay at the north side of the choir, where Holler recorded a fragmentary inscription “on a marble”, a term normally referring to a brass. It read: Orate pro a, (n)i(m)a m(agist)ri Joh(ann)is Gigur bacculaur(ii) Theologie, custodis huius collegii ac etam….collegii Marton in Oxonia qui obit xii die… (Pray for the soul of Master John Gygur, Bachelor of Divinity, who was Warden of this College and also [Warden] of Merton College, Oxford, who died on 12th day…..)
In 1762 Richad Gough recorded that Gygur’s brass also had a canopy filled with saints, suggesting that the monument could have been a conscious imitation of the brasses of the Cromwell family. It was thus an unusually large and elaborate composition, particularly in comparison with the modest brasses to the other Wardens of the College, most of which survive only as empty indents. John Gygur had a distinguished administrative career. He was a fellow of Eton College from 1453 and bursar there from 1454 until about 1457. From 1471 to 1482 he was Warden of Merton College, an office recorded on the lost inscription. He was also Alderman of the Corpus Christi Guild in Boston in 1472. He succeeded William Moor as the 3rd Warden of Tattershall College in 1456. He resigned this post in 1502 dying at Tatterhall two years later. His appointment may well have been due to the influence of the Lincolnshire-born William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, a former Provost of Eton College, who founded Magdalen College, Oxford. As one of Ralph Cromwell’s executors, Waynflete had oversight of the completion of the College, under Maud Stanhope’s direction. As Warden throughout the period when the church was built and furnished, Gygur would have worked closely with Waynflete. He is thus just the sort of person likely to have been commemorated by such a prestigious brass.