I re-visited a church today, Wiggenhall St Mary the Virgin in Norfolk, to re-take some photos of a rood screen, as I hadn’t done it justice with the first photos. The reason being, I wasn’t that interested to start with, I did think that they were amazing pieces of art, but there are so many fascinating parts to a church, that sometimes is very difficult to know what to focus on. What got me focused on them now………was yesterday’s post, looking at them in detail, it just suddenly struck me how really beautiful they are. Also most of them date from around the 14th to 15th century……a piece of art that is hundreds of years old. Some are quite badly damaged, some are just not looked after, and in the churches that now have heating, this is causing a lot of damage.
The rood screen separated the chance from the nave (the chancel for the priests and the nave for the people) there would have been a top screen with more panels and on top would have been the rood, this was a great crucifix, flanked by the Virgin and St John.
There are about 400 in East Anglia….I’m not going to be able to visit all of them…..but I will try to collect as many as I can. They are really amazing, because the lower part of the screen survived the Reformation, due to the chancels being made redundant in the church and they were turned into school rooms, cupboards, meeting rooms or vestries, the bottom of the screens were useful for cordoning the chancel off from the nave. It was only the Victorians who restored the chancels to their proper use. Some screens had been white washed over, so it was really only when the Victorians started to carry out well needed restoration repairs, that many of them came to light. Also not one complete rood screen with rood has remained, I have seen some very good copies…..but how fantastic it would have been to have an seen an original one……the Reformation has a lot to answer for, in more ways than one.
This screen in Wiggenhall St Mary the Virgin in Norfolk is quite unusual in that most of the figures depicted are females saints also the Virgin and Child. From the north to south side they are: Mary Magdalene, St Dorothy, St Margaret, probably St Scholastica or possibly St Anne, St Catherine of Alexandria, St Barbara, The Virgin and Child and the end panel, St John the Baptist.