While watching the Queen’s funeral services both that Westminster Abbey and at St-George’s Chapel I was intrigued by the screens dividing the church in two. And so evolved today’s post.
Let’s first start with definitions:
Chancel – where the high altar is located, in the past only the clergy and the choir members were permitted in the chancel.
Choir – behind the rood screen.
Nave – where the congregation sits.
Rood – large wooden cross.
Rood screen – typically a wooden (but could be metal, or stone) screen dividing the chancel from the nave. Curtains could have been affixed and closed at certain times of year.
The rood screen toped off with a large wooden rood divided the chancel from the nave. The rood screen was popular in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, some have been taken down, some are still standing. After the establishment of the Anglican church by Henry VIII, roods and anything above were removed. Rood screens could remain but were subsequently called chancel screens. By 1800 the preferred design was that of an uninteupted view from the nave to the chancel. Rood screens made a comeback during the Gothic Revival style.
My question: I understand who sat where when the rood screens were established. But I’m unclear as to who sits where since. I was noticing at the Queen’s funeral ceremonies (Westminster Abbey and St-George’s) that the royal family and some guests were in the chancel. I did notice some of the guests were royaly from other European countries. What strikes me about the rood screen is if you’re sitting in the nave you cannot see anything. So foreign leaders came to Westminster Abbey and could not see. Not being flipant or dismissive here I really am intrieged by the layout and would like to better understand. I’m sure I’m missing something. Does anyone have a clearer understanding?
Sainte-Cécile Cathedral of Albi
Cathedral of our Lady of Walsingham
Chapelle de Kerfons
Crowland, Lincolnshire, UK
St Anno’s Church
Llananno Powys, Wales
North Yorkshire, England
St. Michael’s Church
Stanton Harcourt, England
St-Ethelberg Church Hessett
Suffolk, United Kingdom
St George’s Church
Dittisham, Dartmouth, United Kingdom
St Helen’s Chruch
Ranworth, Norfolk, United Kingdom
St Mary’s Church
St Nicholas’ Church