Monumental Brass Society

Anne a Wode

Date of Brass:
Norwich 6


March 2020

Anne a Wode was the second wife of Thomas Asteley of Melton Constable. The church of St Peter at Melton Constable lies outside the village and in the grounds of the impressive hall built by a later Asteley and is rich in Asteley monuments. However none of them dates fromthe period in which both Anne and Alice Asteley, lived. Alice was the wife of John Calthorpe, who died in 1503 and both were commemorated by a brass in the church of St Nicholas at Blakeney in Norfolk, which refers to John as one of the founders of a convent but there is an illegible word on the inscription at this point. Alice was probably the sister of Anne a Wode's father-in-law. The Asteley family originated from the village of the same name in Warwickshire and had acquired Astley's Manor in Melton by marriage to a co-heir at an early date. The family's original estates were in Warwickshire, with their main seat at Hillmorton, but by the time of Edward I the family also held extensive lands in Norfolk.

Thomas Asteley was the son of another Thomas, who died in 1500 and was buried in the chancel of the church of the Carmes at Blakeney. The Carmelites had a friary at Blakeney but the chancel of the church of St Nicholas was also their domain, so it is not entirely clear where in Blakeney he was buried. There is perhaps a connection with the place of burial chosen by his brother-in-law John Calthorpe mentioned above. The younger Thomas had as his first wife Anne, daughter of Edward Boughton of Lawford in Warwickshire, by whom he had his son and heir John. He then married Anne, who was the daughter of Robert Wode esquire of East Barsham in Norfolk. Anne's sister Elizabeth married James Boleyn of Blickling, which presumably helps to explain Anne's burial there after her death. She gave birth to a boy and a girl on the feast of St Agipitus the martyr (18 August) in the year 1512 and then died as a result. She had previously produced a son, John, in about 1507. The latter went on to become Master of the Jewel House under Elizabeth I and an MP in a number of parliaments.

Anne's inscription, with the abbreviations expanded, is as follows:

Orate p[ro] a[n]i[m]a Anne a wode ux[oris] s[e]cu[n]de Tho[m]e Asteley de Melton Constable

Armig[eri], que in die s[an]c[t]i Agapiti Martyris masculu[m] et femella[m] ad partu[m] pep[er]it et

post pariendi p[er]iculu[m] subito migravit ad Domi[num] A[nn]o M[illesim]o benignissimi vc ij xpi


Her brass is an early example of the Norwich 6 style, produced in the workshop of the freemason and marbler William Harmer and laid in a slab of Vaudey Abbey marble. The figure is a unique composition for this workshop, showing Anne with a baby in swaddling in each arm as well as an opening in her gown beneath her girdle that marks her pregnancy and a large rosary hanging in front of her. The church in which it lies has an fine collection of other brasses.


Copyright:Jon Bayliss

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