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 in Chancery against Sir John Tracy and Henry Izard. This claimed that 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 terms of their lives, around 14 Henry VIII (1522-3). Sir John had since granted a lease of the park to Henry Izard and Izard had sought to eject William Atwood. Atwood hoped to stay proceedings (TNA C 2/Eliz/A7/60). On the face of it, the case had little chance of success unless either or both Edward or John were still living, but the widows of William and Sir John were still fighting the case in Chancery some time later (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.

According to the inscription,William Att Wode's wife Margaret was daughter of Thomas Abarkeley esquire. He was a younger brother of William, Lord Berkeley of Berkeley Castle. 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 several manors 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 date of death of 24 June 1529 could apply to either or both of them. Perhaps they died on the same day in one of the epidemics that swept the country 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 is 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.

Our late Vice-President, Jerome Bertram, writing on Oxfordshire brass styles, commented on the stone used by this marbler in which to set brasses, and categorised his work as that of 'the drunken marbler'. The engraving, and the cutting of the indents to take the brasses were sound, but the design inept. 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 also 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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