Monumental Brass Society

William and Margaret Att Wode

Date of Brass:
Oxfordshire I


July 2020

William Att Wode seems to have left little impression on the records of the time. Years later during the reign of Elizabeth William Atwood of Beach in Gloucestershire brought a legal action against Sir John Tracy and Henry Izard. Sir John's great-great-grandfather William, who held the manor of Doynton, had demised the park there to Atwood's grandfather William and his sons Edward and John for the term of their lives. Atwood thought this had taken place around 14 Henry VIII (1522-3). Sir John had granted a lease of the park to Henry Izard. Izard had sought to eject William Atwood, who brought an action against Tracy and Izard in the Court of Chancery to try and stay proceedings (TNA C 2/Eliz/A7/60). Unless either or both Edward or John were still living, this case would not have stood much chance of success but the widows of William and Sir John were still fighting this case in Chancery at some time before 1579 (TNA C 3/1/99 & C 3/1/137). The Atwoods may have had other land in the parish as they were still there in the 1630s. William Att Wode's wife Margaret was, according to the inscription, daughter of Thomas Abarkeley esquire. The assumption must be that he was a member of the prominent Berkeley family of Berkeley Castle. In fact he was a younger brother of William, Lord Berkeley. His name occurs in the Berkeley archives on several occasions in association with that of John Att Wode. For example, in 1470, Thomas Berkeley, esquire, John Atte Wode and Maurice Kyng appointed John Alford to deliver seisin of their manors of Wottone sub Egge, Cowley, Symondeshale, Alkyngton, Hynton, Erlyngham and Daglyngworth (all in Gloucestershire) to William Lord Berkeley and Joan his wife. John Atte Wode and Maurice Kyng were evidently important retainers of the Berkeley family, appearing frequently in the Berkeley archives together. In 1487 they granted all the land that Lord Berkeley had given them in perpetuity to Richard Willughby esquire. It seems likely that John was William Att Wode's father. The Berkeley archives give the impression that the family had links to the Berkeley family extending back to 1300.

William Att Wode's brass now consists of the poorly designed effigies of himself and his wife Margaret with a foot inscription. The way the inscription reads the date of death of 24 June 1529 could apply to either or both William and Margaret, their deaths on the same day being entirely possible in one of the epidemics that swept the country quite frequently.

Pray for the sowle of Wyll[ia]m att Wode and margaret hys wyfe the

dawter of thoms abarkeley scqueyer wiche deyt ye xxiiii day of

iune the yer of yowre lord God a M CCCCC xxix

Below them are indents for two shields. A pew west of their heads has two more shield indents beneath it and at each corner of the slab has an indent, presumably for the symbols of the evangelists. The slab itself is of lias, a stone not usually used for brasses except for the earlier series of Coventry-made brasses. However the Doynton brass has been associated with two more laid in this type of stone, at Waterperry, Oxfordshire, where a male figure in armour survives and the face is very similar to William's, and an indent believed to commemorate Simon Molland, died 1520, in Merton College chapel. The brass at Waterperry is believed to commemorate Walter Curson, died 1527, and his family. Our late vice-president, Jerome Bertram, writing on Oxfordshire brass styles, commented on the variety of stone used by the marbler in which to set brasses and categorised his work as that of 'The drunken marbler'. He recognised however that the engraving of the brasses and the cutting of the indents to take the brasses was sound while criticising the designer for his ineptness. Given the low output of the workshop it is likely that the designer and marbler were one and the same. The most complete example is at Hutton in Somerset, commemorating Thomas Payn, died 12 August 1528.The wide spread of the brasses far to the west of the Oxford area at Doynton and Hutton suggests that their maker may have spent a season or two as a mason in or near Bristol and was able to make these two brasses while away from Oxford. Bertram suggested that he might have been John Lubyns (also Lobbens, Lobyns or Lebons), a mason with Somerset connections known to have worked in Oxford between 1524 and 1528 and also at Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court.



Jerome Bertram, 'Oxfordshire Styles 1: The Drunken Marbler', Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society


Copyright: Jon Bayliss


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