Friday, 5 November 2010

'and the chauncels shall remain ...

as they have done in tymes past', so states the rubric before Morning Prayer in the 1559 Book of Common Prayer. At Snarford in Lincolnshire, Sir Thomas St Pol, seems to have made a very specific statement as to how he wanted the chancel of his parish church to 'remain' and it was a radical break from the medieval past. When he died in 1582, his canopied monument was erected right at the east of the chancel as close as practicable to the east wall. Thus leaving no room for the reconstruction of a stone altar or even the positioning of the holy table 'altarwise' at the east end of the chancel. The holy table must have stood west of his monument in the body of the church and presumably lengthways, the space is now occupied with a twentieth century 'English' altar. On the monument itself Sir Thomas and his wife Faith are portrayed as very much people of the Reformation, clasping their prayer books to their chests.

Snarford, Lincolnshire

6 comments:

Canon Tallis said...

It is a real shame that as soon as he and the good wife were dead that it wasn't moved. It looks like a nine monument, but it shows no devotion to the English Reformation or the prayer book. Enough has been pulled down. Why not this?

Anthony Symondson SJ said...

Presumably by the time this monument was arected a table would have been provided further down into the chancel or body of the church so that the congregation could have 'drawn nigh' at the appointed time?

Simon Cotton said...

I am sure that Father Symondson's reasoning is correct. Very few examples of this arrangement survive, but it is very well discussed in Addleshaw and Etchells' book. For those who cannot access it, this link may be useful:-
http://www.ecclsoc.org/postreformationtables.html

Anthony Symondson SJ said...

The latest word on the mutilation of English chancels is 'The Reformation of the English Parish Church', by Robert Whiting, Cambridge, £55; I am currently reviewing it. From a Catholic perspective it makes depressing reading. And from the perspective of the school of Comper and the Alcuin Club, there is little evidence that their romantic interpretation of the Ornaments Rubric ever had actual historical veracity during the dismal reign of King Edward VI. The Church of England had become an entirely different beast by 1895. In the same way that it became another beast in 1992. What next one wonders.

Canon Tallis said...

Since the Ornaments Rubric and the rubric ordering the chancels to remain "as in times past" did not appear until Elizabeth's prayer book, what may have happened in the reign of Edward Vi is hardly at issue. You can't expect people to obey rules not yet made.

In spite of the temptation, I will refrain from commenting on the current state of the Church of Rome.

Anthony Symondson SJ said...

On the contrary, Canon Tallis, what happened to churches in the reign of Edward VI is a major issue because the Elizabethan Prayer Book refers to his time as an example for imitation. Much destruction was statutorily imposed, leading to dismantled roods and screens, broken stone altars, imagery swept away, altar plate melted down and remade as Protestant Communion cups. Then came the Marian Restoration, followed by the Elizabethan compromise which, in fect, reinstated the stripped Edwardine, Protestant church interior. It was not until the time of Archbishop Laud that restoration of decenr standards returned, much against the will of the people.

What made the c19 ritualists think that churches were intact at the date of 1548-9 was the survival of inventories of medieval furniture. But they were inventories of objects removed from churches, not what was still in use. The scholarship of J. T. Micklewthwaite, for instance, laid the foundation for meticulous and beautiful late-medieval reconstruction.

Comper himself often researched surviving inventories before restoring medieval churches. But from Dr Lee and the mid-Victorian Directorium Anglicanum onwards the appeal to the Ornaments Rubric for externals was based on a misunderstanding of the historical evidence. In another, quite different sense, Praise God that it was because it led to the building of the finest churches of the late Gothic Revival.