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St. Luke’s to host its 24th Medieval brass festival

October 8th, 2010 · No Comments · Leisure

The church’s brass-rubbing event will feature continuous entertainment by court musicians, gypsy dancers, madrigal singers, and St. Luke’s players.

The church’s brass-rubbing event will feature continuous entertainment by court musicians, gypsy dancers, madrigal singers, and St. Luke’s players.

Many old English churches house monumental brasses. Made of flat sheets of brass, the pieces are engraved with figures, coats of arms and sometimes inscriptions. They are set in a stone slab on the floor or wall of the church, and some are more than 600 years old.
In Great Britain during the Middle Ages, the social systems were such that each local lord of the manor dominated the village and the church. When the lord died, he was commemorated in his local abbey, cathedral or village church according to his status.
Through the 12th century, stone and marble memorials, mostly recumbent statues, were the usual forms of memorial. These statues filled every available space, wore badly and probably were not the medium for eternal memorials.
However, memorial engravings on brass plates were more durable and acted as space savers, since they could be walked upon and cost no more than marble or stone.
Brass plates were brought from Cologne, France, and the transportation costs were enormous. Brass was brought slowly and laboriously by horse and cart, or down river by boat to the sea, then by boat across the channel and the North Sea and finally along muddy, stony roads by horse and cart to the engravers’ workshops.
The earliest English brasses date from 1275. The early 15th century produced the finest monumental brasses. The indents in the floors of the early churches remind us of the thousands and thousands of brasses. Many of the finest were destroyed by the wholesale destruction of the great abbeys, the Cromwellians who plundered and the Royalists who used brass for munitions.
Elizabeth I issued edicts strictly forbidding any damage or mutilation of monuments to the dead and demanded restoration and repair of damaged monuments. Brasses that survived other disasters offended Victorians who ripped them up and laid tile.
From the remaining military, ecclesiastical and civilian brasses, we learn much about the life, fashion, armor and customs of the villages, churches, and castles of the Middle Ages.
Since 1986, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church has been offering the unique opportunity for the community, schools and groups to experience the age-old English craft of brass-rubbing.
Until 1995, St. Luke’s brought the brass-rubbing collection to Long Beach from the London Brass Rubbing Centre in Washington, DC. When the owners of the collection decided to retire, St. Luke’s purchased the collection. The London Brass Rubbing Center in Long Beach is the most comprehensive outside of Britain.
St. Luke’s, 525 E 7th St., will host the 24th season of its London Brass Rubbing Centre on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 6pm to 9pm, with a light repast and continuous entertainment by court musicians, gypsy dancers, madrigal singers, and St. Luke’s players.
Tickets are $30 each for the Medieval celebration. Visit stlukeslb.org/StLukes/brass.html for more information.

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