Design of the Brasenose Cushions The cushions show the arms of the founders of Brasenose College, namely William Smyth Bishop of Lincoln, and Sir Richard Sutton, a lawyer.
Four of the remaining cushions have Bishop Smyth’s arms, and five have Sir Richard Sutton’s heraldry.
Bishop William Smyth’s portrait, which hangs in Hall, and one of the cushions bearing his arms: The cushions were assessed by an antique textiles and fans consultant and described as follows: Four of the cushions are ‘designed with the Coat of Arms of Bishop Smith of Lincoln (?
The expert from the V&A suggested that the singular long cushion would have been placed in the centre of one of the Chapel’s altar steps, with six smaller cushions either side for kneeling on.
The first name which appears on the first endpaper is “John Walpole” though I have not been able to identify him.
On the next endpaper there are more intriguing notes: a previous owner has written: “Ane Weste is my name and if my pene hade beene any better I would have [… In the same hand but at the back of the book there is this inscription: “Henry Bullocke Henrie Bullocke Thy birds shall leave theire arie rigion The fishes in the aire shall flie all the world shall be of one religion all livinge things shall sease [sic] to die all things shall change to shapes most strange Before that I disloyall love Or any way my love decay Although I live not wheare I love Ane Weste” The words are from a well known 17 century folk song of which there are several variations but the text seems to fit that of “The constant lover” by Peter Lowberry, perhaps sung to the tune of “I live not where I love” printed between 16 (see the English Broadside Ballad Archive https://ebba.edu/ballad/30047/citation) Is Ane dedicating this song to Henry?
After some brief research, College Archivist Georgina Edwards found a bill dating from 1667 (a year after the consecration of the Chapel), which appears to detail the purchase of the cushions.
There is a payment of 6 pounds and 2 shillings ‘for 12 toppes of cushions for the Chappell’ and of 3 pounds 11 shillings ‘for makeing them up [and] for a long cushion’ (see the images of the bill below) The bill suggests that there were originally 13 cushions – 12 standard size and 1 long cushion.