Part of oak screen doors from

a former bishop's falace at exeter. centuries, we get progressive skill in construction 7 ft. 10 in. high by 3 ft. 5 in. wide. methods of ever-growing ingenuity, combined

.Mid-fifteenth century.

Victoria and Albert Museum, with a corresponding economy of material, until,

in the later and debase d Gothic, traceries become almost impossibly delicate in proportion and bewildering in the intricacy of their ornament, as at Westminster Abbey, for example.

An account of colour decoration in Gothic clerical woodwork is, perforce, also one of the development of the ornament and construction itself. V hether colour and gilding were an integral part of the early work, or whether such decoration was applied as a super-refinement, after the climax of the carpenter and carver has been reached, it is not possible to say, after so much painting whether original or of later date, has been removed.

Original Screen Door

PILTON, N. DEVON, PARCLOSE SCREEN.

PILTON, N. DEVON, PARCLOSE SCREEN.

10 ft. high by 13 ft. wide. Mid-fifteenth century.

T 137

BOVEY TRACEY, S. DEVON, SCREEN.

^^fre fifteenth century.

BOVEY TRACEY, S. DEVON, SCREEN.

^^fre fifteenth century.

Fig. 139.

  1. S. DEVON, SCREEN.
  2. ate fifteenth century.

Fig. 139.

  1. S. DEVON, SCREEN.
  2. ate fifteenth century.

CHULMLEIGH, DEVON, SCREEN.

Late fifteenth century.

CHULMLEIGH, DEVON, SCREEN.

Late fifteenth century.

CHULMLEIGH, DETAIL OF BASE. CHUL.MLEIGH, DETAIL OF VAULTING

In the little parish church of Culbone in Somerset is the little fourteenth-century screen illustrated here in Fig. 96. Another example is in Appledore Church, as far removed as the Romney Marsh, of very similar detail, which shows that the type must have been general at this date. The main frame of these simple screens consists of a cill, posts and a head or upper plate, all mortised and tenoned together. The heavy traceried heads are tenoned to the balusters instead of being grooved between vertical mullions in the later fashion. These heads are, therefore, cut from the one piece of timber, pierced with circles and with simple patterns, «without cusping. In some of these early screens the shafts are turned ; in others, as in this example, they are moulded. There is rarely any other decoration beyond a crude moulding of the framework.

In the fourteenth-century screen at Lavenham, Fig. 97, we have a marked advance in constructive methods, but Suffolk at this date was in a far greater state of artistic development than Somerset. Here the moulded mullions are crested with crocketted pinnacles tenoned between head-beam and transom, with crocketted ogival arches abutting on to them and bracing them firmly together. These arches, at their centres, are tenoned into the beam above, and are filled with tracery supported 011 a central slender shaft. The detail can be studied in Fig. 98. At Atherington, Fig. 99, the tracery is grooved into the mullions, both the ogee and the tracery being cut from the solid. Interlaced cusped arches are introduced into the lower panels, supported on moulded ribs which mask the panel-joints. It will be noticed that all these early screens of this type have square heads, the mullions being mortised directly into the beam, and with

Fig. 143. COLDR1DGE, DEVON, SCREEN.

Detail of vaulting. Late fifteenth century.

Fig. 143. COLDR1DGE, DEVON, SCREEN.

Detail of vaulting. Late fifteenth century.

Fig. 144. LAPFORD, DEVON, SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century.

Fig. 144. LAPFORD, DEVON, SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century.

Lapford Devon

LAPFORD, DEVON, DETAIL OF VAULTING.

Fig. 140

LAPFORD, DOUBLE VAULTING.

Looking up.

Fig. 140

LAPFORD, DOUBLE VAULTING.

Looking up.

Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo traceried spandrels in the upper portion of the o]>enings only. In some rare instances these openings were completely filled with tracery.

At Grundisburgh, Figs. 100 and 101, a further advance in construction is to be noted. Alternate mullions are carried through from cill to head in the form of posts with the intermediate mullions acting as framing members, dividing each bay into two lights or openings. The tracery, carried up to the head, is taken through these intermediate mullions, which are forked over it. The crockettecl ogival arches are applied, pegged to the tracery, and supported on abutments formed on the mullions. Unlike Lavenham and Atherington, the entrance from nave to chancel is through a finely decorated archway, flic chancel begins, at this date, to lose its former rigidly exclusive character.

The chapel screens at Barking, Figs. 102 and 103, show a further development in

SWIMBRIDGE, DEVON, SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century.

SWIMBRIDGE, DEVON, SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century.

Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.

design, the tracery with its applied ogee arches being arranged in double and triple pendentive form, although the original carved iinials are missing. The lower panels are enriched with applied tracery, grooved into the posts and divided by an applied moulded rib. At Lavenham, Fig. 104, the traceried heads are cut from the solid, with applied arched ribs, grooved into the mullions. In the X. aisle parclose screen, Fig. 105, of somewhat earlier date, the tracery is pinnacled or gabled in a manner reminiscent of many of the stall canopies of the period. The applied mouldings to some of the gables are missing and all the pendants have disappeared. Apart from the strong suggestion of foreign influence in these two examples, the Gothic is here fast losing its former logical character, and is degenerating into mere ornament. The stall canopies of All Saints, Hereford, Fig. 106, will show the standard reached before this decline. Here the ogival arched heads break forward and form niches, richly traceried above and crock« tted below There is the straight beam above, with both shafts and pinnacles tenoned into it. There

SW1MBR1DGE, DEVON, DETAIL OF SCREEN BASE.

SW1MBR1DGE, DEVON, DETAIL OF SCREEN BASE.

Mr. Fretlk. Sumner, Photo.

Chancel Screen

SWIMBRIDGE, N. DEVON, CHANCEL SCREEN.

SWIMBRIDGE, N. DEVON, CHANCEL SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century.

Fig. 150. ^

SWIMBRIDGE CHANCEL SCREEN. §

Detail of vaulting. ^

Knight, Photos. ^

is not the massive grandeur which is noticeable in the design of the Winchester stalls, where the canopies are hewn from great masses of timber. Here the elfect is achieved by constructional methods, although with some loss in dignity and splendour.

The chancel screen at Chudleigh, Figs. 107 and 108, introduces the arched type of the West. It is formed of live bays, the arched moulded heads of stout section, tongued between head and post. The tracery of each bay is grooved into the head and supported on three moulded shafts, with caps and bases. There is a strong suggestion of the fourteenth-century influence still remaining in the heavy solid traceried heads, which are carried behind the foliated spandrels into the posts. In the base panels, formed by crocketted tracery, with large ribs tenoned into a bottom rail carved with a series of quatrefoils in circles, are painted figures with inscriptions below executed with simplicity but with considerable taste. A similar treatment will be noted in the screen from Bradninch, Fig. ioq, but here the character is somewhat later, the mullions being taken'through to the cill, with the luatrefoil tracery applied over the panels. The painted figures are in late fifteenth-century costume.

The screens surmounted nr,mM 0™ ncr CnDrrM

COLDRIDGE, DEVON, PARCLOSE SCREEN.

by rood-lofts offer different !Ly sixteenth century.

U MS

constructional problems. These rood-lofts are, or were, for very few have survived the purposed destruction of Puritan times, of two classes, those with single overhang, that is where the loft projected on the nave side only, and those where the loft hung over the line of the screen equally on its east and west side. The cill or base was nearly always continued across the whole width, forming a step or threshold across the opening from nave to chancel. The posts, with solid buttresses as at Southwold, Fig. 121, or with flying buttresses as at Ludham, Fig. 131, are strongly mortised into the cill and the beam, and at a distance of about lour feet from the floor, are stiffened by the insertion of a heavy rail or transom. The heads are traceried, either between, or on moulded ribs fixed to the transom below. The loft, where its overhang was on both sides of the screen, was supported on joists, placed transverse!) across the beam, either notched over, or tenoned into it, these

BRUSHFORD, SOMERSET, CHANCEL SCREEN

Early sixteenth century.

BRUSHFORD, SOMERSET, CHANCEL SCREEN

Early sixteenth century.

Jlr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.

joists in turn being tenoned into the bressummers which supported the fronts of the loft. These beams were housed, generally, into the walls of the chancel, or, where the lofts extended right across the nave, into those of the aisles. Further support was given to the joists by means of brackets to the posts of the screen, and on these the groining or vaulting was applied. The handrails or upper beams of the rood-loft were fixed into the walls in the same manner as the bressummers, and the upright nmntins were tenoned between. The vaulting, which sprang from the face of the posts to the base of the rood-beam, was formed by shaped ribs, pegged to the posts, and tenoned into the beam above, grooved or rebated to receive the panels.

The groined screen of Barking, Figs, no and hi, shows an early development of this type, the deep tracery being pierced in arcaded form and stiffened by the inner ribs of the groining, which are fixed to the posts. Mullions are inserted to support the tracery, breaking each bay into a triple light, small beads being pegged to both faces for strength and decoration. The delicate carved ogees are missing and the carving has suffered much mutilation, but the east side, which is not vaulted, exhibits some beautiful carving in the spandrels, and especially upon the entrance arch, which is decorated with crockets, in quaint bird form, and is full of that whimsical creation in which the mediaeval woodworker delighted. Fig iii shows the vaulted side of the screen, its former rood-loft now replaced by a modern cresting. The construction of the vaulting can be seen, where the panels are missing from the ribs, and the mortise in the stone arch, which can be seen on the left, may indicate the position of an earlier rood-beam, of a date prior to that of the screen itself, when these beams were fixed across chancels without lofts or screens below (see Fig. 149).

The decorative painting of these fifteenth-century screens varies considerably in different localities, not only in quality, but also in type. A general distinction may be made between those of the East and the West. The East Anglian screens are distinguished by their lightness of structure, and delicacy and refinement of proportions in tracery, cusping, and similar details. They are more lofty than those of the West-country, and in design and treatment are more restrained. The lofts, where they exist, are narrower than those of the West. The painting, as a rule, is exceedingly rich in quality and detail, a lavish use being made of little blossoms in gold and colour, as in the vaultings and the mouldings at Ranworth (Figs. 112 to 118) and Bramfield (Figs. 123 to 127). A strong sense of general colour is also preserved, which prevails over

TAWSTOCK, N. DEVON, THE GALLERY.

Length 16 ft. 6 in. Early sixteenth century.

TAWSTOCK, N. DEVON, THE GALLERY.

Length 16 ft. 6 in. Early sixteenth century.

the entire harmony. Thus Ludham, Figs. 130 and 131, has red as the principal note, whereas at Bramfield blue predominates, in each instance relieved with gold. The rule of heraldic colouring, of metal on colour, or colour on metal, is usually rigidly observed. The use of gilded gesso with tiny patternmgs of geometrical or free form, is the chief

Fig. 151. HOLBETON, DEVON, SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century. 14s

Fig. 151. HOLBETON, DEVON, SCREEN.

Early sixteenth century. 14s

Carved Bressumers

HOLBETON, DEVON, DETAIL OF BRESSUMMER.

HOLBETON, DEVON, DETAIL OF BRESSUMMER.

characteristic of the finer examples, as at Bramfield, Southwold, Figs. 119, 121 and 122, or Yaxley, Figs. 12S and 129. This gesso ornament was used, both as a ground for the painted devices, or as the actual decoration of fillets and moulding members, or of the buttresses, as at Southwold.

HOLBETON, DEVON, DETAIL OF TRACERY.

Early sixteenth century.

HOLBETON, DEVON, DETAIL OF TRACERY.

Early sixteenth century.

Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photos.

LAVENHAM, SUFFOLK, THE SPRING PEW.

Earl}- sixteenth century.

At Ran worth, a small Xorfolk village at the head of Ranmorth Broad, the screen is probably the finest in East Anglia. It is of the late fifteenth century, of delicate proportions, and extends across the chancel in the form of eight bays, the opening of the chancel being contrived in the central two. Beyond the screen are retables on the north and south, with subsidiary altars below, and projecting into the nave are parclose screens with flying buttresses, Figs. 117 and 118, which shield the parochial altars. The groining to the loft, Fig. 116, was formerly in the form of a double vault, of which the outer members have disappeared, together with the loft itself. The groining seen in the illustration continued downwards in pendentive form, then sprang upwards and outwards to the loft-beam. The mutilation has been partially masked by the modern cornice. Originally the effect of this double vault must have been unique in its rich decorative effect. The parclose screens are of panelled framing, the principal posts assisting in the support of the loft-beam. The outer sconce-posts are braced to those behind by richly decorated flying buttresses, one of which is shown in Fig. 118.

LAVENHAM, SUFFOLK, THE OXFORD PEW.

Early sixteenth century.

LAVENHAM, SUFFOLK, THE OXFORD PEW.

Early sixteenth century.

Fig. 159

WESTMINSTER ABBEY, CHAPEL OF HENRY VII.

Fig. 159

WESTMINSTER ABBEY, CHAPEL OF HENRY VII.

Last quarter of fifteenth century.

UFFORD, SUFFOLK, THE FONT COVER.

UFFORD, SUFFOLK, THE FONT COVER.

Late fifteenth century, x 153

The double groining was supported by the insertion of an intermediate bressummer or joist in the floor of the loft. The original effect of this screen, with its painted pendentive double-vaulting before the chancel, the retables complete with their delicately tabernacled niches, pierced cusped arches, and decorated vaulting above, the whole surmounted by a rood-loft of equal richness of design, must have been one of extreme beauty. The figure paintings upon the whole of the screen are of wonderful charm of colour and spirituality of drawing. They appear to have been painted in tempera upon a gesso ground. The figures upon the North wing, Fig. 114 (Retable to the Chapel of St. John), are St. Etheldreda, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Agnes and St. Barbara. The background to each figure is in the form of a dossal, upheld by an angel on a panel painted with floral devices. In the lower panels in the central, portion of the screen are representations of the twelve apostles, in the following order, with their names written in Gothic characters accompanying each.

UFFORD FONT COVER, DETAIL,

UFFORD, SUFFOLK, THE PAINTED ROOF.

UFFORD, SUFFOLK, THE PAINTED ROOF.

Saxcte Thoma (emblem : spear). North side Bartholomee Saxcte (knife and book), ofdoonvav. Sancte Iacobe (pilgrim's staff and book).

Saxcte Andea (cross and pouch at his girdle). Petre (keys and book).

St. bunon.

  1. Thomas.
  2. Bartholomew.
  3. James the Greater.
  4. Andrew.

St. Peter.

Here is the Chancel opening

I Sce Paule (sword and book). Sce Johes (chalice and dragon). Sce Philippe (basket of loaves). Sce Jacobe (fuller's club). Sce Jude (boat). Sce Matthee (sword).

St. John.

  1. Philip.
  2. James the Less.

St. Matthew.

ASHBOCKING, SUFFOLK, FONT COVER.

The rotable to the South Altar, Fig. 115 (Chapel of our Lady), depicts saintly motherhood. St. Salome with SS. James, and John, the Virgin Mary with the Holy Child, St. Mary Cleophas with her four sons, James, Joses, Simon and Jude, and St. Margaret, all with angels above supporting flowered dossals. On the parclose screens the outer sides are painted with saints and fathers, the two most masterly paintings being St. Michael on the South, Fig. 117, and St. George on the North.

The detail of the paintings of the twelve apostles, six of which are shown in Fig. 113, are both choice and curious. The under robes are gilded and outlined in blackr dark brown and red. The patterning of these robes is an instance of the love of the early painters for quaint conceits in the introduction of figures of beasts or birds into their floral or conventional ornament. An example of this can be seen in the robe of St. Simon on the extreme left. The backgrounds are of dark green and red, with floral diaper patterns. The small flowers introduced everywhere, on the mouldings and the panels of the vaulting, are faithful representations of the wild blossoms of the locality.

Though sadly mutilated, the screen at Southwold, Fig. 119, presents, even in its present condition, a good example of the refined design and skilful construction of the mediaeval woodworker, and the taste in painted decoration and gesso work of the artist craftsman. It shows, also, the high level to which these arts attained in the late fifteenth century. It extends the whole width of the Church at the first column of the nave arcade, forming chapels to the North and South aisles, these being partitioned from the chancel by elaborate canopied parclose screens of which one is shown in Fig. 120. The portion spanning the nave is somewhat higher than that of the aisles, and is of very graceful proportions, the detail of the base panelling, and applied mullions ornamented with diagonal pinnacles, richly moulded and capped, being extremely fine. The groining of the destroyed loft, judging by the delicate beauty of the fragments of the pierced vaultings with their carved finials, was probably of similar form to that at Ranworth. The fragment of the groining, which is still attached to the head of the screen, undoubtedly formed part of the loft front, which was evidently designed with a series of vaulted niches, probably decorated with floral forms, and the panels with figures of saints.

The decoration of the chancel screen is much richer than in those of the aisles, which, though still of great beauty, are less ornate, and comparatively quiet in tone. The whole of the wainscotting, Figs. 121 and 122, is filled with painted figures, drawn rath a fine spirit and sense of decoration. Those on the principal part of the screen, representing the twelve apostles, are painted against a dado of beautifully modelled and gilt

gesso diapers, the little patterns Lbeing formed of the vine leaf and frnit in an ogee and diamond in alternate panels. The cresting to the dado consists of delicate traceried forms of varying designs. The colouring of the panelled and pierced base is a combination of red, blue, green and gold, arranged in beautiful and harmonious counterchange, a figure having a green or blue robe being against an upper background of red and vice versa (e.g. St. Philip has a red cloak, blue background behind nimbus, red behind tracery above and red at the

SW1MBR1DGE, DEVON, FONT COVER.

Early sixteenth century.

SW1MBR1DGE, DEVON, FONT COVER.

Early sixteenth century.

ST. PETER MANCROFT, NORWICH, FONT COVER.

Late fifteenth century.

ST. PETER MANCROFT, NORWICH, FONT COVER.

Late fifteenth century.

base. The next panel is occupied by St. Matthew who wears a purple robe, with red behind the nimbus, dark blue behind the tracery above, and blue at the basB. The gold under-robes of the figures, in the same manner as at Ranworth, are painted with rich designs in black and red, after the style of the elaborate fabrics of the period. These coloured robes are embroidered with patterned borders and are finished with decorated collars and gold and jewelled clasps.

The paintings, as far as can be ascertained in their defaced condition, are as follows :

i.

St

1

St

o •

St

St

4-

St

5-

St

6.

St

7-

St

8.

St

9-

St

10.

St

ii.

St

12.

St

  • The illustrations do not show the following.)
  • Fig. 122.)
  • The illustrations do not show the following.)

Chancel Opening

ST. MICHAEL-AT-PLEA, NORWICH, THE POSTREFORMATION TYPE OF FONT COVER.

ST. MICHAEL-AT-PLEA, NORWICH, THE POSTREFORMATION TYPE OF FONT COVER.

Early seventeenth century.

On the Screen across the X. aisle.

0 0

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