Object Details

The Mayfield Cannon

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General Information
Classification
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Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons

Location

Street:High street
Town:Mayfield
Parish:Mayfield
Council:Wealden District Council
County:East Sussex
Postcode:TN20
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Road or Wayside
Access is:Public
Location note:Gravelled area next to Mayfield St. Leonards School
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Page:38
Grid reference:E8
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ587270
Previous location:On top of the porch of the Old Palace, Mayfield (moved 1863)
Previous location:Slightly further down High Street at the kerb

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Makers

Company/Group :Mayfield Furnace
     Role:Foundry
Name :Sir Thomas Gresham
     Role:Designer

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General Information

Commissioned by: Sir Henry Neville
Construction period:Between 1567 and 1579
Installation date:1977
Work is:Extant
Owner custodian:Mayfield Parish Council
Object listing:Not listed
Description:A cannon on a mounting of local stone. An inscribed plaque is affixed to the front of the plinth just underneath the cannon.
Inscription:Metal plaque on the front of the stone mounting, just underneath the cannon:

THE MAYFIELD CANNON

This gun was probably cast during the reign
of Queen Elizabeth I, at Mayfield Furnace
which was owned by Sir Thomas Gresham
from about 1567 to 1579.

The Mayfield Local History Society restored
the cannon in 1977 to commemorate the
Silver Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

This plaque was donated by the Trustees of the Royal Armouries, 1995.

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Classification

Categories:Military, Free Standing, Commemorative
Object type1:Street furniture
Subject type1:Non-figurative

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Object Parts

Part 1:Cannon
     Material:Iron
     Height (cm):25
     Width (cm):173
     Depth (cm):25
Part 2:Base
     Material:Stone
     Height (cm):55
     Width (cm):90
     Depth (cm):45

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Object Condition

Overall condition:Good
Risk assessment:No known risk
Condition 1 of type:Surface
     Condition 1: Corrosion, deterioration
     Condition 2: Biological growth
     More details:Biological growth to base. Rusting and corrosion to black painted cannon.
Date of on-site inspection:13/08/2007

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History

History:‘…over four hundred years ago the pretty Sussex village of Mayfield was at the centre of England’s largest iron-working area… Hugget (or Hogge) had furnaces between Mayfield and Buxted at which it is said the first cannon cast in England was made in 1543.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, the famous financier Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange, lived in the Old Palace in Mayfield. He also owned the Mayfield Furnace, which lay beside the stream in the valley between Banky Wood and Little Trodgers Lane. (The whole of this area is designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument). Other local furnaces included those at Bivelham, Bungehurst Farm, Hawkesden Forge in Park Wood, and Woodbridge in Fir Toll Road, the latter a scheduled monument.
The Mayfield ‘Falcon’ Cannon on local display was dug out of the cinder beds of the Mayfield Furnace in 1824, and was placed on top of the porch of the Old Palace, then in ruins. It presumably remained on top of the porch until 1863 when the Palace ruins were rebuilt by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus as a convent. The cannon was removed by members of the Local History Society and descaled and refurbished by a member of the Society, who was also a gunsmith. It was decided that the contribution of the Local History Society to the village for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 would be to have the cannon mounted in its present position in the High Street, near the Convent Gate House. A village firm of builders erected a mounting of local stone.
The cannon is obviously a reject casting as part of the muzzle has been broken off and a large blow hole is apparent at this point. The ordnance historian C.J.N. Trollope has dated the Mayfield cannon between 1567 and 1579 – from the first Elizabethan age. The cannon would have been originally 7ft 6ins long and cast by Sir Thomas Gresham at his Mayfield Furnace. Following the death of Sir Thomas in 1579, the Mayfield Furnace passed to Sir Henry Neville who obtained the monopoly for the export of cast iron cannon between 1592 and 1597. During those five years the Mayfield Furnace produced more guns than anywhere else in England.
As recently as August 2004, a cannon contemporary to that discovered in Mayfield, was dredged up from the wreck of a late c16 merchant ship in the Thames Estuary near Gravesend. Bearing the initials and grasshopper family crest of Sir Thomas Gresham, it is due to be displayed at Fort Nelson near Portsmouth. Sir Thomas is known to have had a contract with the King of Denmark to make 100 ‘culverins’, very large basically naval guns, of the style represented by the example on display in the village. In echoes of modern politics, Sir Thomas was found to have been illegally supplying foreign powers with his cannons, at exactly the same time as the Mayfield cannon was being made.
Eventually the onset of the Industrial revolution in the late c18 took heavy industry north to the coalfields, and the last furnace in the Weald closed in 1813, although it is believed the Mayfield Furnace closed more than a century earlier.’
(‘Mayfield: Ancient Wealden Village’ p3-5)

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References

Source 1 :
     Title:‘Mayfield: Ancient Wealden Village’
     Type:Book
     Author:Mayfield Local History Society
     Page:3-5
     Publisher:Mayfield Local History Society.


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Photographs





Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

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