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Brass Rubbings, U.K. Style, at Church in Long Beach

October 31, 1987

Never mind that you're not hopping a plane to Britain this weekend. You'd probably buy one of the brass rubbings that became popular wall hangings in this country a few years ago, or else you'd spend hours of your vacation time on your hands and knees producing your very own brass rubbing.

For Southern Californians, the trip is unnecessary, because a bit of medieval Britain has taken up residence at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Long Beach.

The craft of brass rubbing has been brought to the L.A. area, courtesy of the London Brass Rubbing Centre in Washington.

About 40 facsimile plates of knights, ladies, kings, merchants and animals from 14th- and 15th-Century Britain are on display and available for rubbing. The technique entails using a special wax on paper, requires little skill and can be completed in less than an hour.

The brasses in the collection are reproductions of monumental plates found in churches that date back centuries. The plates were set in the floors or walls of local churches, abbeys or cathedrals to commemorate the lord of the manor when he died. Docents at St. Luke's provide lectures on the history of the brasses.

"This gives people an opportunity to actually touch a piece of history," said the Rev. A. LeRoy Young, the church rector who worked for three years to bring the center west.

"I'm not quite sure why it's so popular," he said. "Perhaps it's because of an interest in things medieval and English. Plus, the end result of the rubbing is very satisfying. It doesn't take much artistic talent, just muscle power. Quite a bit of history has been preserved in the brasses, and many have stories behind them."

The exhibit continues through Nov. 20, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m (closed Monday). Sessions last 1 1/2 hours; fees range from $2.50 to $15 and include all materials. No reservations are needed for individuals and families, but groups of 10 or more require reservations. Information: (213) 436-4047.

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