Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Corner post - Finney's Post

Finney's Post

  • Object:

    Corner post

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1400-1450 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak with carved decoration

  • Museum number:

    W.42-1920

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64b, The Simon Sainsbury Gallery, case WS, shelf EXP

This post came from a building in the market-place at Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, called the Garrets, formerly used as residence for the canons of the collegiate church and destroyed some time before 1850. The post was called 'Finney's Post', after a merchant of Burton by name of Finney. It is related the Finney's wife, who had the reputation for being a scold, fell into a trance and was thought to have died. While her bier was being borne to the graveyard it hit against the post. She thereupon recovered consciousness and lived, it is stated, for several years afterwards, much to the disappointment of her husband. At some time between 1800 and 1850 a brass plate was fixed to the post, engraved with the following lines:-

'This Post, as Finney's Legend saith,
Awoke a Scolding Wife from Death;
But when at length she ceas'd to breathe,
And honest Finney ceased to grieve,
'oh shun' he said, as borne along,
With solemn dirge and funeral song.
'Oh shun, my friends, that cruel Stump
That gave my dear so hard a Bump.'
J.S.

Physical description

Corner or Jetty-Post, known as 'Finney's Post'; the lower part has on each of the two faces a pair of arched panels, the lower two containing a portcullis, the upper two a four-light window; in the middle of the post is a raised band surmounted by battlementing and having two projecting turrets at the corners; the upper part is formed of three curved spurs, the face of each carved with 3 traceried two-light windows. Carved on the outer faces of the two outer spurs (at top) with stylised leaf ornament. One of the two plain (built-in) faces with two large mortices (at top and bottom), and two smaller (and evidence of others), and within a long rebate two further mortices, and one original peg. Looking from above the post, an L shaped tenon is visible, sitting within a well formed by the three spurs. At the top, between the spurs are two plain recesses, each with a large, vertical mortice, possibly originally holding applied ornament.

No traces of colour.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1400-1450 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Oak with carved decoration

Dimensions

Height: 226 cm, Width: 62 cm, Depth: 58 cm

Object history note

In 1920 Mr Bertram Sergeaunt (apparently the husband of one of Mr Thornewill's daughters, Mr Thornewill's father having purchased the post from Lord Anglesey), invited the Museum to purchase the post after it did not meet its reserve (£200) at auction. The Museum purchased it for £50 from Bertram Sergeaunt. A letter from H.B.Marsh (Librarian and Curator of the Public Library, Burton-Upon-Trent), 10/11/1922, was sent to the V&A, noting their unsuccessful attempt to purchase the post at auction, and requesting a photograph of the post, and loan (for six to twelve months, of 'any indefinite period suitable to' the Museum).

Charles Tracy, English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork (London, 1988), cat. no. 239, p.145:
The post belonged to a building in the market-place at Burton-on-Trent, called the Garrets, formerly used as residence for the canons of the collegiate church. On the destruction of the building it was moved to Plas-Newydd in the Isle of Anglesey, and at the sale there about 1850 it was bought by Mr. Robert Thornewill, of Burton Abbey, whose son moved it to Craythorne, near Burton. It was afterwards lent to the Museum at Burton-on-Trent. The post was called 'Finney's Post', after a merchant of Burton by name of Finney. It is related the Finney's wife, who had the reputation for being a scold, fell into a trance; and while her bier was being borne to the graveyard it hit against the post. She thereupon recovered consciousness and lived, it is stated, for several years afterwards, much to the disappointment of her husband. In the early part of the 19th-century a brass plate was fixed to the post, engraved with the following lines:-

"This Post, as Finney's Legend saith,
Awoke a Scolding Wife from Death;
But when at length she ceas'd to breathe,
And honest Finney ceased to grieve,
'oh shun' he said, as borne along,
With solemn dirge and funeral song.
'Oh shun, my friends, that cruel Stump
That gave my dear so hard a Bump."
J.S.

Historical context note

In Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547 (p.294), Charles Tracy writes:
As well as maximising floor space on a congested frontage, the jettying-out of medieval timber-framed houses allowed the freest possible flow of people and carts at street level. The buildings were supported at the corners by a substantial bracket, which provided an opportunity for the display of carving. These brackets, or corbels, were often decorated with low-relief tracery...

See Margaret Wood, The English Medieval House (London, 1965) pp. 208-226 (chapter 15, Timber Houses), especially Jetties, pp.219-226, and illustration fig.68, page 221

Descriptive line

Of carved oak

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Charles Tracy, English Medieval Furniture and Woodwork (London, 1988), cat. no. 239, p.145

See Tracy quotation in Object History Note section

Production Note

Probably the first half of the 15th century.

Materials

Oak

Techniques

Carving

Categories

Architectural fittings

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.