A monumental brass is a figure, inscription, shield or device, or a combination of elements, engraved on brass and usually inlaid in a marble floor slab as a memorial to the dead. Brasses first became popular in the 13th century. Their primary function was to elicit prayers for the soul of the departed, but as time went by they became more a record of family lineage. Their popularity spread across Christian Europe and lasted throughout the late medieval period, to wane in the 17th century when marble monuments became fashionable.
There are varying estimates of how many brasses were laid down in England (perhaps as many as 100,000) but large numbers were destroyed during the Reformation and the Civil War. Just as many were lost through 18th century neglect and 19th century 'restoration'. There was a renewed upsurge of interest in brasses as memorials in Victorian times, inspired by the Gothic Revival, and this continued beyond the end of the Great War when there was a need for a convenient form of memorial for the multitude of war dead. These trends are all reflected here in St Mary of Charity, Faversham.
John Weever, in his Ancient Funerall Monuments of 1631, says of Faversham: 'The funerall Monuments of this Church are more carefully preserved than in any other that I have seene in all Kent.' Edward Jacob, in his History of the Town and Port of Faversham of 1774, noted that 'the monuments of the deceased are in different parts of the church and chancels, some mural; others with brasses, and many without brasses on the floor" these last, when the body and aisles were not pewed, to preserve the memory of those they covered were carefully removed into some open and conspicuous parts thereof'. So when Dance restored the church in 1754-5 he tidied up the brasses.
In 1926, Mill Stephenson compiled a great national list of brasses, and Faversham still had the largest amount (twenty-six) of any parish church in England.
As well as the floor brasses dating from the 15th to the 17th century, St Mary of Charity also has Victorian inscription brasses under windows, given in memory of a loved one, or to commemorate a major national event.
So, in this glorious town church, we have brasses dating from the early 15th to the 20th century, acting as a reminder of the generations of Faversham folk who have worshipped here. They are an important aspect of the history of this church and this town.