Monday, 24 May 2010

A practicality.

Doddiscombsleigh, St Michael, Devon, nII, 2c, Baptism
Glass at Doddiscombsleigh in Devon.

So you are medieval priest in a rural parish, with very fews clerks to hold your liturgical books for you.  What do you do at a baptism with your nice new copy of the Sarum Manual?  Well you either use a wooden lectern or have a stone one constructed against the pillar next to the font.  That is precisely what they did at Beckley in Oxfordshire, where a fifteenth century stone lectern built as an integral part of a pillar next to a plain reset Norman drum font.  There are one or two stone gospel lecterns still in existence, built out from the north wall of the chancel, but this font lectern is, I think, a unique survival.

Beckley, Oxfordshire

6 comments:

Davis d'Ambly said...

When I first saw this Allan, I thought it must be the north side of the chancel and wondered what on earth is the font doing there. Then with your explanation it all becomes clear.

In my childhood parish there was a small "missal desk" that was fitted to mount on the edge of the font.

Nebuly said...

The officiant faced west, not east, at Baptism?

Nebuly said...

Or is that the Chancel Arch rather than the West Tower Arch?
One would expect to find the font at the West end.

Allan Barton said...

Sorry I should have explained the positioning. This is eastern arch of a two bay north nave arcade. So yes, the arch you can just make out behind is the western arch of the crossing. It might seem a little unusual to have the font so far east in the nave, but I believe that the crossing tower functioned, in effect, as the eastern bay of the nave and you entered the church through doors opposite the font. In fact you can just about make out in the background the south door covered in a red curtain.

Scott Moncrieff said...

Didn't the priest and godparents turn west for part of the Sarum rite, to renounce the devil? So it would work brilliantly then.

Allan Barton said...

Indeed they kid Scott.