Rood screen

Diane Lynch

Rood screens are common features of churches from the Middle Ages. They separate the choir or chancel (the area around the altar) from the congregation in the nave. In Old English, rood means ‘cross’ or ‘crucifix.’

St Leonard’s rood screen dates from around 1450. Originally it was brightly painted, with a central door and a gallery above it. The gallery was removed in 1880, though the staircase to it remains in the corner between the north aisle and the chancel.

The decoration of the rood screen includes several jesters’ heads. In 1894, the cost of restoring the screen to its current plain oak finish was met by Mrs Cornelia Adair, an American who was living in Beechwood mansion at that time.

In 1909, Sir Edgar Saunders Sebright commissioned and paid for figures to be added above the screen, in honour of his parents. These figures represent the Virgin Mary, Corpus Christi and St John, and were carved in Oberammergau.

Unadorned rood screen with inscription above and pews in the nave, from the 1900s
C Motley postcard collection
Rood screen with carved figures above, 1910s
Mary Mealey Collection
Rood screen with figures added and chairs in the nave, from the1920s
C Motley postcard collection
This page was added on 25/03/2021.

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