Lot 125

RARE AND IMPORTANT NORTH EUROPEAN ARMET, CIRCA 1500, PROBABLY FLEMISH, CONVERTED TO FUNERARY USE IN ENGLAND IN 1677 with medially-ridged hemispherical skull extending downwards at the nape as a medial strip, fitted at its brow with a high reinforce, at its apex with a later spike for the attachment of a funerary crest, at each side with a pivoted demi-visor and a pair of hinged cheek-pieces supporting a pair of later gorget-plates, its front edge bordered by lining-rivets, the brow-reinforce rising at the centre of its upper edge to a cusp, pierced at its front with a pair of lace-holes and formed at its lower edge with a projecting angular inward turn serving as the upper edge of a vision-slit, the cheek-pieces well shaped to the chin and nape, overlapped and fastened by a stud at the point of the former, cut with a deep U-shaped face-opening bordered by lining-rivets, pierced over each ear with five small hearing-holes, and fitted at their lower edges, in place of a mail aventail, with a pair of funerary gorget-plates, the front one centrally divided and joined by a riveted internal strip (detached at one side), the visor with hinged arms (the right hinge later re-attached externally), formed at its upper edge with a projecting angular inward turn serving as the lower edge of a vision-slit, and pierced at the right with five vertical ventilation-slots and a hole for a missing lifting-peg, and retaining substantial traces of funerary painting consisting, on the cheek-pieces, of alternating foliate scrolls of gold within a linear border of the same colour on a black ground, and, elsewhere, with foliate scrolls and flowerheads of red within linear borders of the same colour on a gold ground (heavily patinated overall) Provenance From the tomb of Sir Thomas Hook, St Lawrence's Church, Wootton St Lawrence, Hampshire. Exhibited On loan to the Royal Armouries, H.M. Tower of London, and Leeds, (AL 37). Literature F. H. Cripps Day, "A List of Churches Containing Armour" in Laking 1920-2, Vol. V, p. 187. Victoria County Histories (Hampshire), Vol. IV, p. 242. The Wootton St Lawrence armet hung until recent years over a bracket in the church, marked with the initials T. H. of Sir Thomas Hooke, died 1677, whose monument it formed. He acquired Tangier Park in 1660 and built a house there in 1662, which his son sold in 1710. Although broadly conforming to the Italian fashions of about 1440-1520 (see Blair 1958, pp. 86-91 & 133, figs 117-8; and Laking 1920-2, Vol. II, pp. 71-98, figs 428-41), the Wootton St Lawrence armet, like all other examples of its kind preserved in English churches, lacks the marks usually found on Italian-made armour of that period. It further differs from its Italian counterpart in having ventilation-slots pierced in the right of its visor and hearing-holes in each of its cheek-piece. As such slots and holes are a common feature of Flemish armets and close helmets of the early 16th century, mostly deriving from English churches (for example, Laking 1920-2, Vol. II, figs 443 & 445-7), it seems probable that the Wootton St Lawrence armet, like much armour used in England in its time, would likewise have come from the Low Countries. The strong shaping of its cheek-pieces to the chin and nape, and the depth of the face-opening cut into their front edges suggest that Wootton St Lawrence armet dates from no earlier than the last decade of the 15th century, whereas the uncovered hinges of the arms of its visor and the turned rather than flanged edges of its vision-slit suggest a date no later than the second decade of the 16th century. Closely relating to the Wootton St Lawrence armet, is one in St Mary's Church, Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, lacking its visor and cheek-pieces (G. F. Laking 1920-2, p. 206, figs 1672a & b). It has precisely the same form of skull, the same form of brow-reinforce and the same form of piercings over the ears as the former. Other armets are recorded in the churches at Beverly, Yorkshire; Buc