The Catterall Brass

In vol II of Whitakers History of Whalley, there is a description of the brass:

"Within or adjoining to the North Chapel [ of Whalley Parish Church ] was a brass plate, with the figures of a man (in armour) and woman each kneeling before a desk. Behind the father were nine sons, and behind the mother eleven daughters Beneath was this inscription:-

'Of yr Charyte pray for the Sowllis of Raffe Catterall, Esquier, and Elizabeth hys wyfe, whyche bodies lyeth Before this Pellor, and for all ther Chylder sowlys, whych Raffe descesyd the xxvj day of deceber ye yere of or Lord God Mcccccxv. On whose sowlys Jhu haue mercy amen.'

The plate was in the possession of Robert Sherburne, of Mitton, esq. in 1659, and is now lost."

There is a marginal note in the author's handwriting in Whitaker's own copy of his History of Whalley:-

'Since that time I found it at Catterall Hall, and by favour of Sir John Shelley, Bart. the owner, have replaced it in its original position. TDW'

Whitaker records elsewhere that he was returning from a visit to the Lake District, and stopped at Catterall Hall for tea with Lady Shelley, (who Whitaker said was a direct descendent of the Catteralls of Catterall) who showed him the brass (and presumably persuaded her husband to return it to the church).

"Many years after the 'History of Whalley' was finished, and when the author was engaged on the 'History of Richmondshire,' he chanced to visit Cockersand Abbey, near Lancaster, and in the parlour at Catterall Hall, an old farmhouse near Garstang, belonging to Lady Shelley (the descendant of the Catterall's of Mytton, and formerly Miss Winckley of Wynckley), he discovered a brass plate hung up, which, upon examination, he found to be the identical missing memorial from the chapel in Whalley Church, which had been lost for so many years. He made application to Lady Shelley, to know if she had any objection to its removal to the old situation. She kindly replied 'None in the world;' consequently it was restored. Lady Shelley was a fine specimen of an old lady of the last century; the posessor of ancient estates, highly born, highly educated, adorned by many feminine Christian virtues; she survived her husband many years, and died beloved at the ripe old age of ninety-four years in 1874."

Wynckley is on the banks of the river Hodder at its junction with the Ribble, and just across the river from Little Mitton Hall. There were marriages between the Catteralls and the Winckleys.

There was a general removal of brasses from Parish churches:

"At the dissolution of the monasteries it was not an infrequent thing to find that the brasses were shifted by the friends or descendants of the deceased from the monasteries to the Parish church. There are inscriptions to this effect, cut in brass, to record the removal of tombs from abbeys to churches; but, alas! this was not done here. and Whalley church, though it is the burial place of many a distinguished and gallant family for generations, does not possess (either from the Abbey or in itself) one single memorial of this kind."

Seems very likely that the Catterall brass was originally in the Abbey, and moved to the parish church at the dissolution.

It has been fixed to the eastern respond of circular pillars to the North aisle in the Little Mitton Chancery. It was still there when I last visited (about 1990). I have some photographs (somewhere) of it, and also a brass rubbing. It is about 8 inches high and 24 long.

Robert Nowell Whitaker (another Whitaker) wrote:

"In the church repose the ancient Deans of Whalley, the Delaleghs, the Nowells (Of Read), the Catteralls (of Mitton), the Sherburnes, the Assheton (of Downham), all without a single memorial in chancel or nave. Neither are there any remains of brasses ..."

He seems to have forgotten already about the Catterall brass -

To be fair to Robert Nowell Whitaker, the 'Handbook' was put together from his notes after his death by his daughter Margaret Lucy Whitaker.