Hailes, Gloucestershire - post-Reformation liturgical arrangements

Hailes, Gloucesteshire

I'm very grateful to Roger Mortimer for his fascinating comment on Elizabethan table carpets, which he has posted on my Buckland vestments article. In his post he mentioned in passing the Elizabethan liturgical arrangements, that until the mid twentieth century, were still extant at Hailes church in Gloucestershire.

Hailes, Gloucestershire

This is a view of the west end of the chancel at Hailes, that I took in 2007. Until fifty years ago, the east end of the chancel was a mirror-image of the west end. The double tier of seats that you see here, continued right across the east end of the chancel, as the diagram below shows.

This arrangement of seating prevented the holy table being placed at the east end of the chancel where the medieval altar would of been. Rather, as this photograph below shows, the holy table was placed in the very centre of the chancel, with its short ends facing east and west. A table carpet would have been thrown over the table during the time of communion and the priest would have stood on the north side, facing south across the table as he celebrated communion in the midst of the people. This liturgical arrangement was intended to create an intentional visual statement. It was intended to visually divorce the reformed communion service from the perceived supersition of the medieval mass.

Hailes, Gloucestershire

Sadly this rare and interesting liturgical arrangement at Hailes has now been swept away. This is the east end of the chancel today. The eastern seating has been removed and steps have been introduced to support a freestanding altar at which the priest presides facing the people.


Nick Groves said…
How the hell was that allowed to happen, when even the Ecclesiologists didn't mess it up? What was the DAC thinking of? I have long wanted to go to Hailes to see it; now I shan't bother.
Allan Barton said…
I suspect it was done just before DAC's started to bite. It's still worth the effort Nick, it is a lovely church with good medieval tiles, but sadly not what it was.
Simon Cotton said…
Maybe Langley Chapel in Shropshire is now a better approximation: -

It is a shame.

In the older photograph, what are the objects under the Holy Table?
Allan Barton said…
Hassocks I think.
Nick Groves said…
Deerhurst (which is also in Glos) still has similar arrangements - I think. It all goes to show how deeply the Ecclesiologists' idea of How A Church Should Look is still with us.
Allan Barton said…
Yes Deerhurst is still more or less intact. The holy table is freestanding, but is placed altarwise, if I remember.
Canon Tallis said…
You gentlemen may find it interesting, but I find it quite terrible that this was allowed to happen in the first place. It so completely violates the rubrics of Elizabeth's prayer book, rubrics that were carried over into 1662. I have been meaning to pull out my map of Britain and locate the place just to know what bishops and archdeacons failed in their duty.

The modern arrangement is not much better since it appears to be arranged for a celebration facing the people.

Bad attitude on my part, I guess, but I have never had much use for puritans and that sort.

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