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Roods, Screens and Weddings

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The rood in medieval Britain and Ireland, c. 800–c.1500. Edited by PhilippaTurner and JaneHawkes. (Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture.) Pp. xvi + 224 incl. 45 figs and 13 plates. Woodbridge–Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2020. £60. 978 1 78327 552 6

Chancel screens since the Reformation. Edited by MarkKirby. (Proceedings of the Ecclesiological Society Conference 2019.) Pp. 186, incl. numerous ills. London: The Ecclesiological Society, 2020. £20 (paper). 978 0 946823 26 0; 1460-4213

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2021

St Cross College, OxfordOX1 3LZ


These two useful and beautifully-produced sets of conference and associated papers span 1200 years of theology and church archaeology in these islands and beyond. The volumes are complementary, comprising a thematic Venn diagram on the rood, its screen and the Reformation afterlife of screens. The area of Venn intersection around screens points to a missing fourth theme of great importance, which I will add to the rich store of data presented by the sixteen essayists, all of whose contributions are worthwhile in their own right.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2021

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I am grateful to Robin Ward and Lucy Kaufman for stimulating me to further thought on the themes that I raise in this review, and for clarifying conversations with Lyndal Roper, Thomas Kaufmann and Susan Karant-Nunn.


1 On ‘staurograms’ see Hurtado, L. W., The earliest Christian artifacts: manuscripts and Christian origins, Grand Rapids, Mi 2006, esp. pp. 135–6, 139, 151–4Google Scholar.

2 On Harvey see Maltby, Judith, ‘From Temple to Synagogue: “Old” conformity in the 1640s–1650s and the case of Christopher Harvey’, in Lake, Peter and Questier, Michael (eds), Conformity and orthodoxy in the English Church, c. 1560–1660, Woodbridge 2000, 88123Google Scholar. My own copy of the eventual form of the Harvey cycle, bound up with Herbert in continuous pagination and edited by the redoubtable George Gilfillan, remarks charitably of The synagogue that it ‘has less poetic merit than “The Temple”, but is very pious and instructive’: The poetical works of George Herbert: with life, critical dissertation, and explanatory notes, ed. G. Gilfillan, Edinburgh 1853, 216.

3 Catharine Otton-Goulder demonstrates this in detail for one area of England: ‘The impact of the Reformation on the building and repair of churches in the East Riding, 1547–1730’, unpubl. DPhil. diss. Oxford 2021. On Dering and his orders for demolition see pp. 238–40, 251–72, 279–81.

4 Cooper, Trevor, ‘The interior planning of the English parish church, 1559–c.1640’, in Barnwell, P. S. and Cooper, T. (eds), Places of worship in Britain and Ireland, 1550–1689, Doningon 2019, 5294Google Scholar, rev. this Journal lxxii (2021), 427–8.

5 The Book of Common Prayer: the texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662, ed. Brian Cummings, Oxford 2011, 71, 164, 714n.

6 A significant exception to prove the rule is noted at Chancel screens, 85–6, at Foremark, Derbyshire. This screen is part of a new build of 1662 that is patently an attempt to recapture the appearance of a pre-Civil War parish church. Those undertaking the work would not yet have appreciated that the 1662 Prayer Book had removed the wedding communion rubric. They were creating the sort of screen that had been built in the previous half-century, expecting more wedding communion.

7 One of the most sensitive readings of the changes in the English marriage service over the Reformation nevertheless fails to mention the continuing requirement for a eucharist as part of the church service: Peters, Christine, ‘Gender, sacrament and ritual: the making and meaning of marriage in late medieval and early modern England’, Past & Present no. 169 (Nov. 2000), 6396CrossRefGoogle Scholar. E. J. Carlson goes some way to discussing the marriage rubric with an understanding of its significance: Marriage and the English Reformation, Oxford–Cambridge, Ma 1994, 44–9.

8 Richard Hooker: Of the laws of ecclesiastical polity: a critical edition with modern spelling, ed. A. S. McGrade, Oxford 2013, ii. 272 (v.73.7).

9 Diarmaid MacCulloch, Silence: a Christian history, London 2013, 196.

10 Carlson, Marriage and the English Reformation, 133, 242 n. 245: a case in Ely diocese.

11 TNA (PRO), SP 12/117, fo. 32r (my italics): I am grateful to Lucy Kaufman for alerting me to this reference.

12 See my review of Lunnon, Helen F., East Anglian church porches and their medieval context, London 2020Google Scholar, this Journal lxxii (2021), 410–11.

13 This is the theme of Martin Ingram's seminal Church courts, sex and marriage in England, 1570–1640, Cambridge 1987 (see his summary at pp. 366–7), though Ingram does not deal with wedding communions.

14 Christopher Haigh, ‘Communion and community: exclusion from communion in post-Reformation England’, this Journal li (2000), 721–40.

15 See the useful summary account of Lutheran practice in Karant-Nunn, Susan C., The Reformation of ritual: an interpretation of early modern Germany, London–New York 1997, 1342Google Scholar.

16 A good summary of the forms for solemnising matrimony in the Reformation Church of Scotland is Todd, Margo, The culture of Protestantism in early modern Scotland, New Haven–London 2002, 267–75Google Scholar.

17 Martin Bucer and the Book of Common Prayer, ed. E. C. Whitaker (Alcuin Club Collections lv, 1974), 124–5. An excellent discussion of Bucer's marital theology is Selderhuis, H., Marriage and divorce in the thought of Martin Bucer, Kirksville, Mo 1999Google Scholar. On the Bucers and the Cranmers see MacCulloch, Diarmaid, Thomas Cranmer: a Life, rev. edn, New Haven–London 2016, 481Google Scholar.

18 The writings of Henry Barrow, 1587–90, ed. L. H. Carlson (Elizabethan Nonconformist Texts iii), London 1962, 453–5: quotation from A brief discoverie of the false Church, 453.

19 The writings of John Greenwood and Henry Barrow, 1591–1593, ed. L. H. Carlson (Elizabethan Nonconformist Texts vi), London 1970, 338; The writings of John Greenwood 1587–1590, ed. L. H. Carlson (Elizabethan Nonconformist Texts iv), London 1962, 24–5.

20 Puritan manifestoes: a study of the origin of the Puritan Revolt, ed. W. H. Frere and C. E. Douglas, London 1954, 27. Modern clergy facing the curse of confetti on the church path might encourage modern couples to return to corn as an excellent biodegradable substitute.

21 Documents relating to the settlement of the Church of England by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, ed. [George Gould], London 1862: ‘The exceptions against the Book of Common Prayer’, 111–45 at pp. 141–2.

22 ‘The answer of the bishops to the exceptions of the ministers’, ibid. 146–75 at pp. 172–3.

23 The Book of Common Prayer (Cummings edn), 102.