Saturday, 12 March 2011

Lenten array 2011

Christ Church Staincliffe

The ancient western custom of covering altars and images with Lenten array and Lenten veils has been covered on this blog a number of times.  If you want to know more about the custom and its purpose look at the article here and further examples of it see here, here and here.  It was a custom that seemed to be in decline, but recently there have been one of two revivals of it.  The first few images here are of the array introduced by Fr Anthony Howe at Christ Church Staincliffe in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  An old stencilled frontal was acquired for the high altar and new veils made to go with it.   The last image comes courtesy of Fr David Ackerman and shows the high altar at Windrush in Gloucestershire.  The frontal is an old Warham Guild frontal long unused that he found hidden in a chest in the church and reused for the first time this Lent.  The altar arrangement with the riddel posts is a recent revival of the old arrangement and dates from 2010. 

Christ Church Staincliffe

Christ Church Staincliffe

Windrush, Gloucestershire

7 comments:

Davis said...

Very comely and suitable. Thanks and good to see Fr Anthony's contribution highlighted.

Ray Barnes said...

Thankyou for the article and all the wonderful illustrations. I'm getting a late-in-life education and a free one at that.
Keep them coming.

Death Bredon said...

How often are six candles seem on and otherwise proper English altar?

Anthony Symondson SJ said...

Three responses to Death Bredon's question.

1 Comper permitted the All Saints sisters to put six magnificent Baroque candlesticks and a crucifix on the high altar of the chapel of St John's Home, Cowley, Oxford in 1904. His earlier design for the temporary chapel also included six candlesticks, of Gothic design. They were made by Barkentin & Krall and for some time stood on the nave altar, beneath the stone screen.

2 At the instigation of Fr Mayhew, six candlesticks and a crucifix and tabernacle were designed by Comper for the high altar of St Cyprian's, Clarence Gate in the late 1920s. They are the same as those for All Saints, London Colney. Alas, these and the tabernacle have been swept away in recent years.

3 Martin Travers, in his volume of Pictures of High Mass, provocatively included some baroquised 'English altars' with a crucifix and six candlesticks and even relic chests. It was published by the Society of SS Peter and Paul and the drawings were done tongue in cheek.

Thereafter six candlesticks were found on Gothic altars here and there as a matter of choice, rather than principle.

Canon Tallis said...

In short, such additions are in violation of the Ornaments Rubric besides being really ugly. I, unlike Father Symondson, am glad to see them "swept away."

Anthony Symondson SJ said...

Canon Tallis

Recent historical research of the school of Diarmaid MacCulloch has demonstrated that the mid-Victorian and Edwardian interpretations of the Ornaments Rubric were based on wishful thinking and error. For instance, the church inventories of the period of Edward VI were of items removed from churches, not of what still remained. Effectively, many churches if the period had been stripped out. This means that scholars like Micklethwaite, for instance, were basing their work on misunderstood evidence.

What this means is that the reintroduction by Comper of Gothic, or English altars, in the late c19 was unintentionally anachronistic. The last genuine expression of Anglican architecture was the post-Wren evolution which put the pulpit at the centre of church planning. The Camdenian interpretation of the 1840s was largely romantic, if decisive.

The placing of six candlesticks on an English altar confuses two models but, as far as the Church of England is concerned, both forms are anachronistic. But in terms of artistry the merging of both can, when done properly, be successful.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Symondson,

While I really appreciate your work in documenting the work of one of my artistic and architectural heroes, I must disagree about the validity of the value of the "scholarship" of Diarmaid MacCulloch. It, like most Roman scholarship concerning this period is and must remain suspect. As professional archeologists will tell you, a single piece from the period will tell you more about what was done that all the possible words.

You write of the period of Edward Vi, but the rubrics to be found in the prayer book tradition date from the period of Elizabeth I and were retained in the book of 1662 over Puritan protest and objection. They look back not to the period of Edward VI but the reign of Queen Mary in which the Use of Sarum was revived and its rules enforced. We also now know that in much of England, particularly in the North, not even the first BCP came into use. We also know that Elizabeth's prelates complained of being forced to wear "the golden vestments of the papacy" in her presence while celebrating the Eucharist. And since to this day, one of the last chasubles made for use in one of Elizabeth's Chapel's Royal is displayed in a French museum with textile experts dating the fabric of same to the late 1590's.

And before one makes the post-Wren evolution the ideal of Anglican architecture, I would counter with Shirley's Holy Trinity, Staunton Harold, the more especially as it was built by a churchman during the Cromwellian Interregnum.

The question here is one of literal obedience to rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. And that is a question of preference for the use of the medieval church against that of the decadence of Renaissance Rome and the papacy of that time. I prefer the prayer book and I know that you have come to prefer things more Romano.