THE ROODSCREEN

rood screen

The oak screen was put in by the son of Richard de Wyke in 1480 along with the rood screen stairs. The screen was repaired in 1840 with parts of the screen from Hillfarrance church and further repairs were carried out in 1957. The fan vaulted screen is of the West Somerset type with pointed heads to the central arch and 4 lights which are filled with tracery of the Exe Valley type with foliated bosses at the intersections, the central one bearing the coat of arms of Richard De Wyke (3 millrinds). Below these are plain panels, those on the north having been renewed in the 1869 extensions, but on the South the original oak panels exist. The original oak panels have traces of applied tracery and colour which would have been removed at the time of the Reformation. In the mid 16th century the Church of England broke away from the Catholic Church. In 1549 the English Prayer Book was issued, the text of which we owe to Thomas Cranmer. A second Prayer Book was then issued in 1552, in which the central doctrine of the service of Holy Communion was declared to be no more than a commemorative rite. Gone were the veneration of saints and most of the icons were removed; monuments were defaced; wall paintings were covered in white wash and stained glass windows were removed if they betrayed any hint of medieval superstition.

rood screen detail
 

The eastern chancel face of the screen (the top part) seems to be original and made of oak but the western face seems to be of relatively modern work with roll and torus moldings. The rood cross is in place but the figures are no longer in situ, but the rood screen stairs remain. The screen was probably mutilated at the time of the Reformation. The rood screen was repaired in 1840 with parts of the screen from the Hillfarrance church and further repairs were carried out in 1957. Originally the screen had doors in the archway so that the sanctuary could be sealed off from the congregation, the position of the hinges can still be seen today. There were probably curtains behind the screen so that the congregation could not see into the sanctuary either. The only place that the altar could be seen was through the squint or hagioscope. This was particularly important when the host was being consecrated. The squint can be seen towards the extreme centre right of the image, a dark shape just to the right of the board bearing the hymn numbers and about the same size as the board.

On the lower right hand panel of the screen can be seen two outlines. It is thought that this possibly shows where decorations were removed in the reformation. [No image currently available.]