The chancel screen at Chudleigh, Figs. 107 and 108, introduces the arched type of the West. It is formed of five bays, the arched moulded heads of stout section, tongued between head and post. The tracery of each bay is grooved into the head and supported on three moulded shafts, with caps and bases. There is a strong suggestion of the fourteenth-century influence still remaining in the heavy solid traceried heads, which are carried behind the foliated spandrels into the posts. In the base panels, formed by crocketted tracery, with large ribs tenoned into a bottom rail carved with a series of quatrefoils in circles, are painted figures with inscriptions below executed with simplicity but with considerable taste. A similar treatment will be noted in the screen from Bradninch, Fig. 109, but here the character is somewhat later, the mullions being taken through to the cill, with the quatrefoil tracery applied over the panels. The painted figures are in late fifteenth-century costume.
The screens surmounted by rood-lofts offer different constructional problems. These rood-lofts an-, or were, for very few have survived the purposed destruction of Puritan times, of two classes, those with single overhang, that is where the loft projected on the nave side only, and those where the loft hung over the line of the screen equally on its east and west side. The cill or base was nearly always continued across the whole width, forming a step or threshold across the opening from nave to chancel. The posts, with solid buttresses as at Southwold, Fig. 121, or with flying buttresses as at Ludham, Fig. 131, are strongly mortised into the cill and the beam, and at a distance of about four feet from the floor, are stiffened by the insertion of a heavy rail or transom. The heads are traceried, either between, or on moulded ribs fixed to the transom below. The loft, where its overhang was on both sides of the screen, was supported on joists, placed transversely across the beam, either notched over, or tenoned into it, these joists in turn being tenoned into the bressummers which supported the fronts of the loft. These beams were housed, generally, into the walls of the chancel, or, where the lofts extended right across the nave, into those of the aisles. Further support was given to the joists by means of brackets to the posts of the screen, and on these the groining or vaulting was applied. The handrails or upper beams of the rood-loft were fixed into the walls in the same manner as the bressummers, and the upright muntins were tenoned between. The vaulting, which sprang from the face of the posts to the base of the rood-beam, was formed by shaped ribs, pegged to the posts, and tenoned into the beam above, grooved or rebated to receive the panels.
Fig. 151. Coldridge, Devon, Parclose Screen.
Fig. 152. Brushford, Somerset, Chancel Screen. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.
The groined screen of Barking, Figs. 110 and 111, shows an early development of this type, the deep tracery being pierced in arcaded form and stiffened by the inner ribs of the groining, which are fixed to the posts. Mullions are inserted to support the tracery, breaking each bay into a triple light, small beads being pegged to both faces for strength and decoration. The delicate carved ogees are missing and the carving has suffered much mutilation, but the east side, which is not vaulted, exhibits some beautiful carving in the spandrels, and especially upon the entrance arch, which is decorated with crockets, in quaint bird form, and is full of that whimsical creation in which the mediaeval woodworker delighted. Fig. 111 shows the vaulted side of the screen, its former rood-loft now replaced by a modern cresting. The construction of the vaulting can be seen, where the panels are missing from the ribs, and the mortise in the stone arch, which can be seen on the left, may indicate the position of an earlier rood-beam, of a date prior to that of the screen itself, when these beams were fixed across chancels without lofts or screens below (see Fig. 149).
The decorative painting of these fifteenth-century screens varies considerably in different localities, not only in quality, but also in type. A general distinction may be made between those of the East and the West. The East Anglian screens are distinguished by their lightness of structure, and delicacy and refinement of proportions in tracery, cusping, and similar details. They are more lofty than those of the West-country, and in design and treatment are more restrained. The lofts, where they exist, are narrower than those of the West. The painting, as a rule, is exceedingly rich in quality and detail, a lavish use being made of little blossoms in gold and colour, as in the vaultings and the mouldings at Ranworth (Figs. 112 to 118) and Bramfield (Figs. 123 to 127). A strong sense of general colour is also preserved, which prevails over the entire harmony. Thus Ludham, Figs. 130 and 131, has red as the principal note, whereas at Bramfield blue predominates, in each instance relieved with gold. The rule of heraldic colouring, of metal on colour, or colour on metal, is usually rigidly observed. The use of gilded gesso with tiny patternings of geometrical or free form, is the chief characteristic of the finer examples, as at Bramfield, Southwold, Figs. 119, 121 and 122, or Yaxley, Figs. 128 and 129. This gesso ornament was used, both as a ground for the painted devices, or as the actual decoration of fillets and moulding members, or of the buttresses, as at Southwold.
Fig. 153. Tawstock, N. Devon, The Gallery. - Length 16 ft. 6 in.
Fig. 154. Holbeton, Devon, Screen.
Fig. 155. Holbeton, Devon, Detail Of Bressummer.
Fig. 156. Holbeton, Devon, Detail Of Tracery. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photos.
Fig. 157. Lavenham, Suffolk, The Spring Pew. - Mr. C. J. Abbott, Photo,