Henry Wood of Bristol, Monumental Sculptor

Typical modest monument by Henry Wood of Bristol.

Henry Wood is an early 19th Century statuary or monumental mason of Bristol whose work can be seen in several churches in that city. According to Gunnis, the historian of British sculpture, Henry Wood started his career as a statuary in London in the 1770s, most notably making chimney pieces, and he is known to have bought up the business of the prominent monumental mason Thomas Paty of Bristol in 1801. From then until the late 1830s he and his successors (including a grandson, Henry Wood Junior) produced a range of funerary monuments, found in a wide variety of locations but, unsurprisingly, particularly well represented in Bristol itself. Henry Wood is also known as a not particularly prolific architect.

In Bristol Cathedral are four monumental panels signed by Henry Wood, including one, to Edward Applewhaite, d.1803, with a draped pot carved in high relief; St Mary Redcliffe, St James Priory, St Stephen’s Church, Lewins Mead Chapel, and Christ Church with St Ewen all contain examples of his work too - the example above being from the last of these.

The work I have seen by Henry Wood, and descendents, is modest in scale and sculptural ambition, invariably being the white-marble on a black backing type of monuments favoured from 1800 through to Victorian times, in simple panel, tomb-chest end and casket shapes, and not a few based on circular or oval compositions. The sculptural adornment is at most a draped pot in relief – that to Philip Elliot, d.1831, in St Stephen’s Church is the most detailed; and occasionally the odd bird or small heraldic animal, or similar modest piece, and the monument to the Revd. Thomas Ireland in Christ Church with St Ewen has a carved Bible as part of the work (illustrated on the page for that church). All perfectly decent work of its type.

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