Benedict Lee Memorial

Nominated by: Deborah Conway Read

I want to nominate the Benedict Lee memorial brass that used to be in St Leonard’s Church, Chesham Bois.

The brass to me symbolises the love of parents for their new baby and their grief at the loss of the child less than a month old.  I have lived in Chesham Bois for more than 40 years, and this little memorial has always moved me.  We are often told that parents in earlier times felt less for their children because so many died young.  I think this shows that at least one Buckinghamshire family felt so much grief that they had to place a memorial in the church where they would have seen it often.  

This is a chrysom brass, the word ‘chrysom’ refers to the cloth or shroud that was placed over a child’s head when they were baptised or christened, and this term has come to refer to a child that died within a month of their baptism and often wrapped in their chrysom shroud.  These chrysom child brasses are rare, and I think it adds to the history of our county to celebrate this example of love.

Originally, on the floor of the chancel there were brasses of Elizabeth and Robert Cheyne (who died in 1516 and 1552 respectively).  Alongside these were a third, rare, brass of their grandson, Benedict Lee, who died c 1542, and which is believed to be the only brass in existence’ with the word “chrysom” in the inscription.

This brass plaque has been restored and is now covered by a new floor with a trapdoor, so that it is possible to view the brass by appointment with the Church.

The Benedict Lee Memorial was nominated by Deborah Conway Read