Screens and lofts

 

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For a late medieval church in western Europe, a roodscreen with loft and attendant rood was a sine qua non. In England, roods were destroyed at the

Reformation and the lofts were generally pulled down too. Keeping screens compartmentalized the churches for the newly reformed liturgy. French screens survived the Reformation, as Catholicism remained the religion of the state.

The most complete screen and loft in France (1480) is in the chapel of St-Fiacre (1) at Le Faouët (Morbihan). Many French screens were removed in the 18th century to make the altar more visible, but the example at St Etienne L’Allier (2: Eure) is part of a complete refurnishing from the late 17th c.

Many screens in England were reinstated or upgraded in the 20th c. At Lound (3: Suffolk), Ninian Comper added a loft and rood group as part of a reconstruction in 1913. The figure of Christ (c.1600) at North Cerney(4: Glos) was discovered in an antique shop by the vicar and churchwarden on an Italian holiday. F.C. Eden incorporated it in his rood group (c.1929).

Further reading: Francis Bond, Screens and Galleries in English Churches (1908); Yannick Pelletier, Les Jubés de Bretagne (1986); Aymer Valence, English Church Screens (1936).