Friday, 27 March 2009


I've lately been passed a book on the Sarum liturgy and customs to read. It raised for me an interesting question which I hope somebody reading this might be able to help me with.

In any number of guide books to English cathedrals and also liturgiological texts, you can find the rood screen referred to as 'the rood screen or pulpitum'.

In the Sarum Missal, you can read (under the First Sunday in Advent, where a lot of the rubrics lie hidden) 'Et legatur Epistola in Pulpito omni die dominica…in omnibus vero aliis festis et feriis…ad Gradum chori legatur'. And similar directions are given for the Gospel: 'Et sic procedat diaconus per medium Chori, ipsum Textum super sinistrum manum solemniter gestando, ad Pulpitum accedat, thuribulo et ceroferario præcedentibus.'

This has led a number of authorities to conclude that the Gospel and Epistle were read from the top of the rood screen. This is patently absurd: I flatly refuse to believe that. If you look at the various examples of surviving rood screens, if they can be ascended at all, this is done via a narrow staircase accessed by a door, often as little as three feet (=1 metre) high. Possibly the rood screen at Salisbury (destroyed by Wyatt in his 'restoration') had more convenient access, but somehow I doubt that there would have been any dignified way for crucifers, acolytes, subdeacon and deacon, all vested and carrying bits and pieces, to have ascended to the top to sing their parts. It would at least have presented a comic sight.

My Cassells Latin Dictionary has 'pulpitum, a platform: Horace, esp. for actors 'the boards' of a theatre. Hor. Juv.'
My Latham's Revised Mediæval Latin Word-List (a marvellous book) has 'pulpit…ambo'.

Can it be that this long fantasy of the words of scripture being proclaimed from the top of the rood screen is simply that, a fantasy, and is a pulpitum simply, er, a pulpit?

Or a lectern such as the splendid original one in the middle of Merton College Chapel which we actually used for the reading of the Epistle and Gospel in the celebration you can access on the left?

I'd be really interested if anyone has any further information about this.

My suspicion is that a lot of research on the Sarum liturgy was done by Victorian Anglican rectors with plenty of time on their hands but no experience in actually performing solemn liturgy—that didn't really come in until the twentieth century, I think. Having never tried to sing the Gospel from a rood screen, the sheer impracticality didn't occur to them. Other things don't seem to have struck them, such as the fact that the nave in great churches (those with solid rood screens, on the whole) was not used for the gathering of large congregations. But more perhaps on this in another post.


Gregor said...

Well, Father, I'll try to check a few books over the weekend, but let me start by saying this: the German word for rood screen is "Lettner", which comes from "lectorium"; the French word is "jube", which comes from "jube, domne, benedicere". These names alone clearly suggest that readings were in fact read from them, and that is what I have been told in every German cathedral I have visited, and read in every book. But as I said, I will try to check.

Pastor in Valle said...

Gregor, In churches where there was a congregation, I can certainly accept that readings may have been done from the screen, but surely from UNDER the screen, not on top. Perhaps in the doorway. As I said, there is no dignified way of getting a substantial procession up there! Thanks for your interest.

Gregor said...

Father, do you read German? If so, there is avery nice book onlinen about the lettner of Münster cathedral. At a first glance, it appears quite thorough, and includes passages on the liturgical use, describing how the subdeacon would ascend the lettner by the northern stair, sang the epistle on the epistle side, and then descended by the southern stair. For the Gospel it was the other way round, and here the book specifically says that ascent and descent happened in solemn procession, including the thurifer, the acolytes with candles, the subdeacon with the Gospel and the deacon; sometimes they were preceded by a crucifer. That this happend in Münster is attested by a writer of 1564 who says "In hujus operis fastigio mystes, rei sacrae minister evangelium canere consuevit." Here is the link to the book:

The Welsh Jacobite said...

Part of the problem here is a failure to recognise that the rood screen and the pulpitum are two different things.

Greater churches (like Salisbury Cathedral) had both a substantial stone pulpitum and a rood screen (usually of wood) in front of it.

Parish churches only had the rood screen.

The pulpitum survives in many places, and it is (usually!) quite possible to ascend it in a dignified way. It would have made an excellent, roomy platform for proclaiming the epistle and gospel on those specified occasions where greater solemnity was fitting (less so today when it's generally surmounted an organ!).

I think one can be confident that at Salisbury and in other churches with a pulpitum this is indeed what would have happened.

The assumption, however, that in the absence of a pulpitum the rood loft would have been used instead is implausible, for the reasons you adduce (and may result from the error of thinking that rood screen and pulpitum are interchangeable terms).

N.B. The Sarum rubrics refer to what was done at Salisbury, as to an ideal. They make no concession to the conditions in lesser churches - the necessary adaptation was left to common sense and custom. In this instance it's pretty obvious that in such places the alternative used at Salisbury "in omnibus vero aliis festis et feriis" etc. was employed on all occasions, viz. "ad gradum chori legatur".

On your last point, I don't think the reason for using the pulpitum at particular times was so that (non-existent) large congregations could hear it, but to add solemnity.

Pastor in Valle said...

How very interesting!
And yet I stick by my assertion that even if this happened in Germany or elsewhere, the constructions of English screens make this use of them in this fashion improbable. From your description, the construction of these stairs at Münster must have been far more substantial than those in England.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Is the raised and railed area of the sanctuary that extends into the nave where the amboes are situated in ancient Roman churches like St Mary in Cosmedin and St Clements not referred to as the "pulpitum"?
Translated into vernacular English architecture presumably the equivalent would be the Chancel, though the name "pulpitum" seems to be given to the rather bulky and broad structure at the west end of English cathedral chancels, notably Canterbury. In pre-formation times altars and singers and roods seem to have been placed atop these. In simpler churches it seems likely that "pulpitum" designated the western or screen end of the chancel.

Pastor in Valle said...

The last comment was in response to Gregor's.
However, Welsh Jacobite's (which arrived while I was writing the last comment) was even more interesting, and I would love to discover such examples as he suggests. I have ascended the screen in, for instance, both York Minster and Lincoln Minster, and cannot imagine how a great procession would make it.
That the platform is roomy is undisputed (assuming there to be no organ); it is the ascent that provides the challenge.
I'm also not sure about your distinction between a rood screen and a stone pulpitum. I had thought that a rood (i.e. a crucifix with the BVM & St John) simply was placed at the Western side of the stone screen that mediated between Quire and Nave. Are you suggesting a whole other structure?

Pastor in Valle said...

The altars atop the screens: that is another assertion that I have yet to see evidence of. If anyone can find a piscina up there, I will believe it.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Not atop a screen, but an example of an altar atop another is the curious arrangement at Compton, I cannot recall if there is a piscina in the upper level.

micharl said...

Father, please have a look at the pulpitum of Halberstadt Cathedral - there is room enough on top of the screen for lots of crucifers, acolytes, and deacons. But may be this size was a rare exception.

Pastor in Valle said...

Fr Ray: Really the Compton example is a red herring, because that is a double sanctuary; they are rare but not unknown elsewhere.
Michael: your Halberstadt example is the most convincing evidence I have seen. Yes, plainly both the pulpitum and access are substantial. My contention is that in England, though the structure be substantial, the access to it is not: I contend that it would more likely have been used for singers or even for its usual purpose today—to support the organ.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

"I had thought that a rood ... simply was placed at the Western side of the stone screen that mediated between Quire and Nave. Are you suggesting a whole other structure?"

Yes. There's plenty of evidence for this.

I don't have my books to hand, but in at least one there's an early engraving of an English cathedral (I think it's S. Paul's), clearly showing the rood screen to the west of the pulpitum.

Pastor in Valle said...

There's a picture of the screen of old St Paul's here (scroll down).
It looks to me just like the other English ones.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

Sorry, it was Peterborough (I knew it began with P ...).

The illustration is in Gerald Cobb's English cathedrals, the forgotten centuries (1980). He comments :

"Until as late as the 18th century, Peterborough, in common with Canterbury, retained both the
screens between nave and choir that were usual in a great monastic church - the stone pulpitum or organ-screen and, in front of it, the lighter rood-screen. At Peterborough engravings show the latter screen to be of wood, stretching across nave and aisles, while at Canterbury Dart's plate shows its rood-screen to have been of iron."

Pastor in Valle said...

Thank you Welsh Jacobite; that is very helpful. But I still contend that your example, which I happily accept, does not suggest that this is the 'pulpitum' from which the lections were proclaimed: indeed if Peterborough was an 'organ screen', this is even less likely (though of course the term might be a later one).
I think it possible, if not probable, that the custom existed on the continent here and there (cf the Halbenstadt picture): I have simply seen no conclusive or even suggestive similar evidence with regard to the UK. To me the evidence suggests the contrary.
As my original post says, the Revised Medieval Latin Word List (from British and Irish sources) asserts that the word pulpitum refers to a pulpit, ambo or lectern.
I am so sorry that some of you might be finding this quibble ineffably tedious! I can only say that I find it fascinating!

Chris said...

Just to throw in an extra complication, I would think it quite likely that the practice and layout at monastic cathedrals, such as Canterbury and Peterborough (which wasn't even a cathedral until Henry VIII), would have differed from that at secular cathedrals such as Sarum.

Plans I have seen of Norwich and Durham (both monastic) show an additional screen in front of the pulpitum, associated with an altar of the Holy Cross.

Rubricarius said...

I agree fully with 'The Welsh Jacobite' that we need to distinguish between a pulpitum and rood screen.

Churches could have as many as four screens: the altar screen, the choir screen, the pulpitum and rood screen (in that order from the altar). As an example Westminster Abbey still has its altar screen and pulpitum but lost its rood screen several centuries ago.

A friend wrote an article on this subject some years ago that may be of interest:

Pastor in Valle said...

Can you find me one single English example, either extant, or with structural relics, of there being a separate wooden rood screen and stone pulpitum? It seems to me that there was, invariably, only one screen: in parish churches, where the nave was filled by the laity, the screen was usually of wood, but pierced so that those in the nave could see the Mass in the chancel. In great churches, such as cathedrals and large abbeys, the nave was not used much by the laity—not during Mass at the High Altar, anyway,—and therefore the screen was more substantial and of stone.
If you are going to persuade me, you are going to have to come up with some evidence, and not mere assertion.

Nebuly said...

Can you find me one single English example, either extant, or with structural relics, of there being a separate wooden rood screen and stone pulpitum?

I for one cannot and also remain unconvinced - but my celebrated predecessor, Sacrist Perkins, asserted such was the case at Westminster Abbey - where there was a further vast Rood over the High Altar Screen as seen in the Islip manuscript

Saint David's Cathedral has another curiosity
A Stone Pulpitum at the entrance to the Quire and a Wooden "Chancel' Screen between the choro and the High Altar

Rubricarius said...

Pastor in Valle - the history of Westminster Abbey's lost rood screen is well documented in Dr. Jocelyn Perkin's famous work on the history of the Abbey.

Pastor in Valle said...

We have to be very careful to distinguish the rood from the rood screen. There was a rood (i.e. a big crucifix) over the altar at Westminster, certainly; as you say it is shown in the famous Islip Roll,. This is different from THE rood, which was at the entry to the choir, and where a station was made during the procession before the main Mass on Sunday. I believe it to have been on the single screen in the church.
The St David's case is interesting. I wasn't aware of that; I have looked in vain for a picture on the net.
As for Jocelyn 'Sacrist' Perkins; he appears as an example in Hobsbawm's book; 'The Invention of Tradition'.

Chris said...

I'll have to check next time I'm there, but as I recall there are scars on some of the pillars at Norwich Cathedral which could well indicate the positions of the screens (shown on a plan drawn in 1938 showing both extant buildings and archaeology) both behind and before the mediaeval nave altar.

Wyatt did liturgical historians a real disservice in removing Salisbury's pulpitum, together with whatever stairs accessed it! Certainly the space must have been used for something, or why put it there? Organs, as I understand it, are a later introduction; the singers (Vicars Choral at Salisbury) were in the quire with the canons.

Rubricarius said...

The fact that wooden screens have not survived is hardly surprising. The most common form of Easter Sepulchre was made from wood and they are a rarity in England. The fact that a handful of those have survived (e.g. Cowthorpe) may be because of the special regard with which the Sepulchre was held whilst a screen would have been regarded as fit for burning by some. However the fact that the vast majority of English churches lack screens and Sepulchres doesn't indicate they were not used or that larger churches had more than one.

Screens would surely have had a practical purpose - however attractive English churches look on a picture postcard they would have been freezing cold and screens would have helped to deflect drafts.

In my own parish church in Worecstershire there is still extant the corbels where the rood screen was with a staircase and opening on to what would have been the top of the screen.

As to Jocelyn Perkin, de gustibus, but I happen to rather like his book on the Abbey.

Pastor in Valle said...

Many thanks, Rubricarius and Chris (and others), for your continuing this; I remain very interested in your opinions (though I still differ) and am most grateful for your engaging in this debate.
Corbels, such as you describe, often survive, or else holes in the wall. They held the rood beam which held the rood in those places where it was not attached to the main screen. However, it is still not proven that the rood beam had a second screen beneath it. Usually the rood beam would, in any case, have been a matter of mere inches from the main screen, and was large enough to hold, besides the rood, candles and perhaps other decorative or devotional items.

Chris said...

And in any case, ordinary parish churches are really beside the point for this debate - it's almost impossible to argue that a fully-vested Gospel procession could have ascended the average parish rood-loft, the stairs are just too small. (It occurs to me that it may well have been common to send a boy up there to tend the candles.)

If I may attempt to summarise the questions, concerning Greater Churches, developed through these comments:

*What, if anything, was the use of the space on top of the stone screen (often a full bay deep)?

*How many other screens were there (and where was the Rood)? We have, beyond doubt, a screen separating the quire from the nave, and an altar screen separating the sanctuary from what lies east of it; additional screens have been suggested (a) separating the quire from the sanctuary (extant at St. Davids) and (b) beyond the west of the quire (attested at Westminster, Peterborough, Durham and Norwich but not, as far as we know, extant anywhere).

Rubricarius said...

Fr. Sean, It is certainly an interesting subject and you have whetted my appetite. Alas, I cannot do any further investigation now but will make a note to re-visit the subject after Easter.

A last point which may be related - there are records of the building of special wooden platforms for Palm Sunday above West doors. Clearly our medieval ancestors were more agile and liked the idea of sending 'three members of the second form' etc. up a ladder - Can you imagine the health and safety implictions of doing anything similar these days?

Christopher said...

I have a question about doors and altars. Many major churches had an altar of the Holy Cross, usually located in the nave, close to the rood (and often close to the crossing). It seems to me that the location of this altar is essential to the debate going on here.

The screens often had a single west door, placed in the centre. There could be an altar placed either side of this door. Some screens, on the other hand, had two west doors, with a central altar. Then again, three door arrangements are also possible, as is typical in an orthodox iconostasis. I also wonder whether there's any evidence for medieval Holy Cross altars not placed directly in front of a screen.

Do any of you know of examples of either type of screen (whether a pulpitum, rood screen, etc.) where the dedication of the altar to the Holy Cross is known? I'd like to get a sense of what form of the screens and the dedications of the altars can tell us about the screens' functions.

Christopher said...

One question - do we have much evidence for the locations of Holy Cross altars? Were they invariably placed directly against a rood screen or pulpitum with a rood? Could they appear in conjuction with screens with a single door, or where they usually placed centrally between two doors?

Rubricarius: I'd find it helpful if you clarified your list of four screens: was your 'altar screen' behind the main altar and the 'choir screen' between the choir and altar?

Chris said...

Going from the plan of Norwich I mentioned earlier: the pulpitum takes up a complete bay, and has a central door. Between the next pair of pillars to the west there was a thin (wooden?) screen with 2 doors either side of the Holy Cross altar, then another thin screen running between the next pair, with a central door. I wouldn't like to guess whether that is at all typical.

Incidentally, I'm sure I've seen somewhere a pulpitum with a single door set to one side, but I forget where.

Returning to the original post, I'm no latinist, but I don't think you've quoted a single word that suggests climbing; surely "in Pulpito" could just as well be under it as on it.

Pastor in Valle said...

Chris; yes, quite. That is certainly a possibility, though in a great church where there was no great concourse of laity in the nave, it would have been unlikely. In a parish church, I can see it would make more sense.

Chris said...

Might it not be a notional (residual) proclaiming of the Gospel to the people who might be in the nave, whether they bothered to turn up or not? I've certainly censed an apparently empty nave, on the grounds that there might be someone hiding behind a pillar. And the deacon was facing north as he sang, so equally addressing the canons to his right and the laity (or lack thereof) to his left.

Arnaud said...

Dear Father

If I may be so bold to make a number of observations on this interesting post, which is something I have been puzzling over as part of my research as an archaeologist.

William Durandus points to a division between pulpitum and the analogium; which he also calls an ambo – ambiendo (Book 1, 1, 33 -34.).

The pulpitum – he links with a pulpit (as you mention) and describes as a step from which to speak quoting the old testament (2 Chr 6:13, cf. Ezra 8:4-5).

The ambo of his description does indicate that it would ‘surround’ and ‘enclose’ one that has entered it – ambiendo, and he further discusses this in relation to the gospel (Book 4, 24, 17). It has also been suggested that the name may have its origin in relation to being surrounded by stairs, i.e. accessed by two stair cases from different sides, much like the ambos in older Roman churches or the example given by Fr Thiers below.

Of course none of this tells us what the structures looked like, though one can say they lay to the W of the choir (were that existed) and the pulpitum should be a raised platform of some kind, in a public place - publicum. English translations of his work have added to the confusion by consistently translating analogium as rood-loft.

In my experience of excavation and looking at excavation plans I have observed the following.

St Augustines Abbey, Canterbury – The composite plan, post Norman and later, from various excavations would indicate a structure W of the choir stalls identified as a pulpitum; from the crossing arch to the 1st set of columns in the nave only in the central part. There are steps down and then another division, less substantial, between the 2nd set of columns in the nave to the W. This runs right across the central nave and the side aisles. There may have been three altars in front of this screen, the central altar being dedicated to the Holy Cross and so there could have been a rood beam above it.

Cistercian houses – e.g. Fountains (UK) follow a similar layout in some respects. W of the monks choir is usually a structure, large enough to support a loft which is interpreted as a pulpitum. W of that is a retro choir and then fittings or structures that would indicate a less substantial screen with and altar in-front of that with the lay brothers choir beyond that to the W.

Augustinian Canons – e.g. Norton Priory, UK. The excavations indicated the footings of a screen in nave to the W of the crossing arch, with the excavator postulating that the pulpitum was between the W responds of the crossing arch – based on the remains of access stairs and thereby not leaving any footings as in the examples above. In churches that have a crossing arch this does seem like a likely occurrence.

Thornholme Priory, UK – The excavations revealed the footings for a less substantial screen to the W in the nave, and area interpreted as a retrochoir, the footings of a more substantial structure similar to those observed above and therefore interpreted as a pulpitum and the paved choir beyond this (E) with the outlines of the choir stalls.

Norton and Thornholme do suggest and arrangement similar to that suggested by Fr. Thier ‘taking Sens cathedral as his example, suggests that the loft began as a sort of bridge connecting the two ambos on either side of the chancel arch, and that it was gradually made more spacious as it proved useful for other purposes.’

This article seems to have been used by a number of 19th C scholars and extended to England, but would surely only apply to larger cathedral and religious houses and even then perhaps not all of them.

In Devon I have surveyed the standing remains of 23 medieval parish churches that have parts or fairly substantial remains of medieval screens. None would be easily accessible, with the door and staircase being only big enough for a child in most cases. There is no evidence for any substantial structure that could be stood upon by a group of clerks in my opinion.

Two churches do have the remains of later medieval stone pulpits standing outside the chancel screen, though they are both on the epistle side at present.

At one church (a large, wealthy medieval parish church) there is a fascinating structure on the gospel side of the chancel, inside the screen just within the sanctuary. It is the same height as the chancel screen and can be accessed by stairs wide enough to allow a clerk to ascend to the height of the screen. Basically a free standing turret. Both this structure and the screen are built of stone. The suggestion is that this gave access to a wooden gallery that ran along and extended beyond the stone chancel screen, thus creating the gallery, though there is no evidence of this.

In the east of Ireland (at the deserted medieval village of Newton Jerpoint) there are the ruins of a medieval parish church that does have a wide gallery to the W of the chancel arch. There is the suggestion that there were two 'chapels' on either end. The church is not large being only c. 35 – 40m in total length. The gallery is c. 5m wide. This church is within the sphere of Norman settlement with strong connections to the SW of England.

There are therefore a number of monastic churches and churches used by the Augustinian Canons (which probably functioned as parish churches) in the British Isles which do show the remains of two distinct structures which divide the space. This has been noted for some time and I think the important distinction lies between monastic/religious houses and the ‘ordinary’ secular parish church.

I suspect there has been a confusion of terminology going on too. The ‘pulpitum’ of the religious churches in the UK perhaps more correctly being the 'analogium’ or ‘ambo’?

The screens to the W, with or with out a rood beam above, are screens or rood-screens which may or may not have had galleries for candles.

The pulpitum then is the pulpit (as survives in two medieval examples in Devon) or a raised platform for which no evidence would necessarily remain.

In cases like Newton Jerpoint in Ireland a multifunctional space can be postulated, with perhaps the rood beam above.

Pastor in Valle said...

Arnaud: thank you so much; this is unquestionably the most helpful response so far, and most interesting.

Peter Ryden said...

The following is the first footnote on page 77 of Mgr. Goulder's Church life in Medieval England' published by the guild of Our Lady of Ransom'.
In greater churches, there was a solid stone screen known as the pulpitum, as well as the rood-screen. The former stood at the west end of thec hoir, the latter a few bays farther west. The pulpitum was composed of two parrallel walls, runnig north and south, and there was a considerable gallery on top, which was used for singers and their organ. In some places the gospel was sung from the pulpitum. The theory that the rood-lofts of parishe churches were also used for this purpose is improbable - the stairs were too narrow for the deacon's procession. There were often altars placed on the west side of the rood-screen and, here and there, evidence has been found for an altar in the loft itself.

Mgr. Goulder also gives the English of the ordinary of the Sarum rite.

Joost Veerman said...

Dear Father,

In search of 'pulpita'-pictures, I encountered this page of your website. I hope my contribution to the discussion won't be 'mosterd na de maaltijd', but maybe it is interesting to read what Mr Francis Bond wrote about the subject in "Screens and Galleries in English Churches" (London, 1908. p.107-25, 157-66).

Regarding the accessibility of the rood loft, Mr Bond expresses the same doubts as you did (p.121). However, he gives convincing examples of lofts that have or may have been used as an ambo, or even as a sanctuary: on p.122 there is a picture of a piscina next to the entrance of a rood loft (St.Peter's Church, Maxey, Cambs).

As to the different screens (rood-, quire-, chancel screen), he gives clear definitions on p.159, and regarding the combinaton of rood screen and pulpitum, as has been in St.Albans, Norwich and Canterbury e.g., he mentiones a still existing arrangement in Kloster Maulbronn (p.166; see also

Bond's book may be downloaded here:

Yours sincerely,
Mr Joost Veerman
The Netherlands

Joost Veerman said...

Dear Father,

In search of 'pulpita'-pictures, I encountered this page of your website. I hope my contribution to the discussion won't be 'mosterd na de maaltijd', but maybe it is interesting to read what Mr Francis Bond wrote about the subject in "Screens and Galleries in English Churches" (London, 1908. p.107-25, 157-66).

Regarding the accessibility of the rood loft, Mr Bond expresses the same doubts as you did (p.121). However, he gives convincing examples of lofts that have or may have been used as an ambo, or even as a sanctuary: on p.122 there is a picture of a piscina next to the entrance of a rood loft (St.Peter's Church, Maxey, Cambs).

As to the different screens (rood-, quire-, chancel screen), he gives clear definitions on p.159, and regarding the combinaton of rood screen and pulpitum, as has been in St.Albans, Norwich and Canterbury e.g., he mentiones a still existing arrangement in Kloster Maulbronn (p.166; see also

Bond's book may be downloaded here: .

Yours sincerely,
Mr Joost Veerman
The Netherlands

Pastor in Valle said...

Thank you Joost; your comment is very helpful. There is no simple answer to this; the Middle Ages did not have a single rubrical answer to every situation.
You are right that there were sometimes altars on screens, and no doubt other liturgical manifestations, including Even the scriptures, perhaps. But not in most places, and certainly not at Salisbury.

Mikael Trez said...

With regard to one specific question raised here, there are in fact a large number of piscinas in a number of English parish churches that are positioned high above the floor, exactly where the rood loft used to be. There are pictures of all of these readily available online.

Ss Peter & Paul, Deddington, Oxfordshire
St Giles, Great Hallingbury, Essex
St Mary Magdalene, Little Hereford, Herefordshire (even the entrance door to the loft is still present)
St Peter, Maxey, Northamptonshire
St Mary, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
St James, Wigmore, Herefordshire
St Mary, Goathland, Yorkshire
St Mary de Haura, New Shoreham, Sussex (now found on the "exterior" walls, where the old nave of the church as fallen into ruin)

There are undoubtedly more. I call these ‘flying piscinas’, a fairly apt description for their current state.

Mikael Trez said...

Regarding processions into a pulpitum or loft, I would point out that in Sarum Use, the deacon is only accompanied by two cerofers and one thurifer--not exactly a crowd. Narrow steps are commonplace in all medieval buildings, and I would resist drawing conclusions based on what we're accustomed to seeing today.

While I agree that the question of reading the Gospel in the pulpitum is not settled by the rubrics, I find it presumptuous to say emphatically that this was not done in Sarum Use. The original pulpitum is long gone, and its design is unknown (apart from the ornamental façade), so no definitive answer is possible.

Further, any discussion of screens in English churches is hopelessly clouded by imprecise terminology. For this reason, I actually avoid the phrase "rood screen" at all costs. I prefer the terms fence screen, nave screen, pulpitum, chancel screen, and reredos for cathedrals, monasteries, and collegiate churches. These are the 5 screens you might potentially encounter, in order from west to east. No structure that I know of has all 5; but several combinations of the 5 are found all over England.

I use the term chancel screen for parish churches.

Then separately, I specify where the rood beam, rood loft, or simply the rood is found in relation to these screens—bearing in mind that there could easily be more than one rood.

Mikael Trez said...

I have some comments regarding the specific examples of double screens. Mr. Jacobite has pointed out the engravings of Peterborough Cathedral (with 1 stone and 1 wooden screen) and Canterbury Cathedral (with 1 stone and 1 iron screen). Mr. Arnaud has discussed a number of archaeological discoveries.

There are other examples. Ottery St Mary, a remarkable collegiate foundation set up essentially as a miniature Exeter, still have its nave screen. In the 19th century, it was cut in half and used as screening for the choir, but it is otherwise complete. Intact, it had two lateral doors with a wide section in the middle to accommodate the nave altar. This lateral-door design is perhaps typical of these nave screens, as opposed to the central-door choir screens, which really are pulpita and not pulpits. There was a stone pulpitum at Ottery, and it was described by some contemporary authors, but it is now gone. Ottery is an interesting example, because it is not monastic.

Double-screens are thought of as typically monastic, and the usual description is that the nave screen—the end of the parish property—was a wall with lateral doors and an altar in the middle. Several structures and ruins still have their stone, lateral-door nave screens: St Albans, Crowland Abbey, Dunstable Priory, Waltham Abbey (visible only on the exterior), Binham Priory, Boxgrove Priory (where the choir, not the nave, survives), Great Malvern Priory, and I’m sure many others. In all these examples, the walls in question were interior walls before the Dissolution, the demarcation between the two halves of the sacred building. They are all now exterior walls, and the monastic half of the building (or the nave at Boxgrove) has fallen into ruin.

Wooden screens would naturally be lost by now, but in some buildings, stone scarring and architectural features in the first bay west of an existing stone choir screen suggest the previous presence of some sort of barrier. Norwich Cathedral and Christchurch Priory are the two most commonly cited. Finally, contemporary written accounts discuss the double screens at Durham.

Fence screens—i.e. chancel screens on the parish side of a monastic structure—such as the one that survives at Dunstable Priory, may or may not have been common before the Dissolution. Dunster Priory’s screen is perhaps a similar example. Engravings of Binham Priory also clearly show a wooden fence screen.

Parish churches surely had only one screen, and I don’t think there is any debate about that. This is a chancel screen, similar to (or identical to) the fence screen in a monastic building, but very different in design and use from the nave and choir screens of the great establishments. The unusual chancel screen at St David’s is the only chancel screen I can name in a non-parochial establishment.

Joost Veerman said...

Dear Mr Trez,

Thank you for your examples of 'flying piscinas': the mentioned churches will be valuable halting-places during a church-crawling tour. Also thanks for your solid comments: making a distinction between a rood and its bearing structure, prevents confusion.
Besides, it remains fascinating to discover how abundantly 'das Heilge' has been screened off in former days. Do you know whether, on the British Isles, also curtains have been used for it - as was common in Rome from ca.750 onwards (see: Liber Pontificalis, sub Zacharias I, Hadrianus I, Leo III and Paschalis I)? Fr.Bond, in his 'Screens and Galleries', only gives quotations from the Codex Turicensis ("extenso velo inter eos et populum"), from Durand's Rationale ("interponatur velum aut murus inter clerum et populum"), and mentions the Lenten Veil (p.9).

Kind regards,
Mr Joost Veerman.

Pastor in Monte said...

Many thanks for these recent comments. In the light of the last, a Sarum altar has curtains on at least the north and south sides, and often on the east as well. It is understood that there were formerly curtains also to the west, though how these were configured is the subject of conjecture.

Pastor in Monte said...

I should add that yes, Lenten veils were used in England.