Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


A collection of facts on the life of Dr Thomas Wood and St Osyth Wood

Dr Thomas Wood and St Osyth both
had a connection with

Exeter College, Oxford

Dr Wood was a lecturer at Exeter College, Oxford during 1924-27


Dr Thomas Wood

In 1916 Thomas migrated from Christ Church to Exeter College, with which he was to be associated for the rest of his life, unfortunately in 1917 his studies were interrupted by the war and a period at the Admiralty.
In 1924 he returned to Exeter College as lecturer, a post he held until 1927.
Ref Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies

Exeter College at Oxford still has T W carved above the door of what was Tom's room,though now covered with many layers of paint and sporting a plastic number. He earned a title as a church organist and learnt his vocation.
He was retained as lecturer in music at Exeter College, Oxford for five pounds a term.
His gratitude for Exeter College accepting him was never forgotten. He instituted an Organ Scholarship together with Sir Hubert Parry and in 1964 his widow 'had the memorable experience of opening a new student block which bears his name. His grand piano gown and a few other artifact are also there.
Information from Peter Cat
wood building The Thomas Wood building is the work of Lionel Brett and was opened in 1964. It commemorates the 650th anniversary of the foundation of the College, the fourth oldest in Oxford.

There has been a bookshop on this site from 1731 to the present day.

In 1964 the old bookshop was pulled down by Exeter College and replaced by their Thomas Wood Building, opened by the Chancellor of the University, Harold Macmillan.
It now incorporates "Blackwell’s Art & Poster shop" with student accommodation in the upper floors.

St Osyth Wood was the main benefactor to this building.

Exeter College, Oxford in their latest 700th Anniversary Campaign Brochure(2010) mentions St Osyth Wood as benefactor to
the Thomas Wood Building
St Osyth Wood


Alma Mater, the Sculpture at Exeter College by Marco de Alberdi

Marco de Alberdi was a great friend of St Osyth. His father "Joxe" sculptured a statue for Osyth which stands
today in the grounds of Exeter College, Oxford.

I knew St Osyth Wood as a youngster. She stayed with us in London and was an honorary 'great aunt'. she was a great patroness of my father's sculpture work.
She was very generous to my father. She gave him all sorts of memento's. Amongst which were a number of photographs taken by Thomas Wood on a voyage he took with Osyth from Gibraltar to Barcelona in February 1936.

Osyth gave these pictures to my father and many years they were published in a book in the Catalan language about the voyage and its circumstances as they were on the eve of the Spanish Civil war.

The book includes pictures of Thomas and one of Osyth.(see right)
It also includes a copy of a photo of the unveiling of the Alma Mater statue at Oxford with my father and Osyth.
(see below)

Osyth in Malaga, Spain

It occurs to me that I am probably the only person who now remembers the creation of the Alma Mater sculpture in Exeter’s back quadrangle. The
sculptor was my father Joxe Alberdi, who died recently. For me, one of the saddest parts of sorting through my parents’ possessions and splitting things up with my brother and sister has been the loss of experiences, memories and contexts that death brings. I am writing this to record some of the history of the sculpture in the quadrangle and of the sculptor who created it before that history disappears.
‘Alma Mater’ was commissioned by St Osyth Wood, who was married to Thomas Wood (1892 –1950). Thomas Wood was a lecturer at Exeter College in the 1920s and is probably best known for his connections with Australia and as a musician who arranged ‘Waltzing Matilda’. I remember Osyth Wood quite well as she was also our honorary ‘Great Aunt Osyth’.
She smoked untipped cigarettes incessantly, Weights and Woodbines, and was a very generous, fiercely intelligent and almost frighteningly observant woman. She told my father that as she had not had her own children she was privileged to choose the children she wanted to support. She certainly supported my father in many ways until her death, commissioning work and buying some of his most important early sculptures.
The Alma Mater sculpture is in Travertine marble, and my father went to the quarries himself to choose the piece of marble, just as his hero Michelangelo had done before. He revelled in walking in Michelangelo’s footsteps! The block was transported to the Basque province of Vizcaya in
Spain, to a location near the town of Marquina, home to some black marble quarries. In working large pieces of stone, my father was in the habit of
using professional masons rather than the art students he usually employed as assistants on other big works. The professional mason for this work was ‘Aquelino’ who usually worked in the Marquina quarries. Michelangelo reportedly carved his sculptures starting at the front, revealing and finishing the form as he worked through to the back. My father’s technique differed; Aquelino and my father roughed out the marble in the round over a long summer, working from the model of the maquette. Many people came to have a ‘chip’ and I learned to carve marble that summer, working on the sculpture, though I have to admit my contribution to the finished work was pretty minimal. Carving marble with a hammer and point chisel is very hard work and lapses in concentration are harshly punished with nasty bruises and grazes. I avoided it where possible! The sculpture was shipped back to my father’s studio in Wandsworth, London in the autumn and finished there.

During the various meetings and preparations for commissioning and erecting the sculpture.................................
I don’t quite know how it happened, but the sculpture was never meant to sit on the base it now occupies. It was intended to have a rather higher
rectangular base. It is now standing on a granite grindstone that was used to grind pepper in a spice mill near Putney Bridge that was demolished in the early 1960s. The grindstone was supposed to be a temporary measure. (Its companion stone was used as an outdoor table by the family until the 1990s!).
The sculpture must have been unveiled in early 1968, the same year my father became a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. Jo
was always very proud to have this piece of his sculpture at Exeter College in the University of Oxford

Author:- Marco de Alberdi
Courtesy of Exeter College Newsletter 2008

*** From the Latin "almae matres".To remind oneself of the school, college, or university that you once attended or graduated from

Presentation (circa 1968) of the "Alma Mater" sculpture at Exeter College with Joxe Manuel Alberdi (sitting left) with Mrs Wood
and the President of Oxford University (standing)
Photographs courtesy of Marco de Alberdi