Of the saints pictured on the panels, such as are still recognisable are given on page 162.
1 The significance of this will be noted later in this chapter.
Fig. 169 Bovey Tracey, Devon, Pulpit - Late fifteenth century.
Fig. 170 Cockington, Devon, Pulpit. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photos.
Bramfield Screen. North Side. ? (Effaced). ? (Effaced). St. Mark. St. Matthew.
St. Luke. - St. John.
St. Mary Magdalene.
That Bramfield Church was most lavishly decorated in colour there is no doubt, and another extract from Dowsing's Journal of 1643, shows the havoc wrought by Puritan vandals.
"April 7th, 1643. Twenty-four superstitious pictures, one crucifix, and picture of Christ and twelve angels on the roof (rood), and divers Jesus's in capital letters (IHS) and the steps of the Altars to be levelled by Sir Robert Brook."1
At Yaxley, Figs. 128 and 129, the destroyed loft-vaulting reveals the construction, this screen having been originally of the double-sided groined type. The tracery has lost its ogees, niche bases and canopies, but some idea of the wealth of ornament which existed may be gained from the elaborate head to the opening and the tracery of the wainscotting below. The third panel from the left, Fig. 129, shows the only remaining ogee which possesses the original rich applied crocketting. Although this screen has suffered so severely, much of its painted and gilt decoration clings to it. The buttresses which exist upon some of the mullions still show traces of having been once richly ornamented. The gilt gesso dados behind the figures in the panels are reminiscent of Southwold and Bramfield, as is also the delicate treatment of the little sprays of flowers in the wavy design upon the mouldings. The painting of the figure subjects shows refined taste, in drawing and pattern enrichment, and in spite of much obliteration, there is sufficient of the work remaining to enable one to appreciate its fine spirit. The figure of St. Mary Magdalene is shown here in an embroidered and scalloped stomacher; she holds a richly adorned pot of ointment in one hand, while with the other she clasps the jewelled lid. The other figures on the panels are SS. Ursula, Catherine, Barbara, Dorothy and Cecilia.
1 Suckling, "History of Suffolk."
Fig, 171. Kenton, Devon, Pulpit. - Late fifteenth century. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.
Fig. 172. Kenton, Devon, Detail Of Pulpit. - Mr. Fredk. Sumner, Photo.
At Ludham, in Norfolk, Fig. 130, the screen (dated 1493) is of fine design, rich in detail, and aglow with gold and colour. It has, in common with all these East Anglian screens, suffered from ill-usage and neglect. The cill is almost entirely perished, and the vaulted loft is missing. The structure, measuring about 15 1/2 feet across and nearly 13 1/2 feet in height, is divided into eight equally spaced bays, the chancel opening being, as usual, formed of two of these. The tracery is composed of simple crocketted ogees and rich cusping. The mullions are supported by pierced buttresses enriched with recessed panels delicately cusped. The carving of the tracery in the wainscotting of the screen is of fine design and workmanship, but unfortunately the ornament and crocketting on the ogee-pinnacled canopies of the panels have disappeared, together with the finials of the intermediate buttresses.
The figures are extremely decorative in composition, finely drawn and coloured. They are represented in dignified and natural positions, and yet full of the mediaeval grace and charm. The inscriptions of the names of the saints in decorative black lettering are at the base of each panel, and from left to right are represented SS. Mary Magdalene, Stephen and Edmund, then follows Henry VI, succeeded by four fathers of the Church, SS. Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory, and SS. Edward the Confessor, Walstan, Lawrence and Apollonia fill the remaining spaces. The background behind the traceried heads of the panels is painted in blue with gold decoration, while below is a patterning of red and green alternately. The general impression given by the glorious colour-scheme of the whole is a rich effect of red and gold. In the beautiful foliated motif of the running leaf which decorates the moulded transom is an inscription which ends, "made in the yere of ower Lord God MCCCCLXXXXIII."
The West-country screens are, as a rule, not so lofty as those of East Anglia, and the proportions are generally heavier. Carving details are usually very elaborate with infinite variety in the use of vine-trails and other Gothic ornaments in frames, cornices and vaultings, as at Atherington, Figs. 132 to 135. This is a magnificent screen, with its canopied and vaulted rood-loft practically intact. The presence of the sixteenth century is evident in the Renaissance ornament which fills the spandrels of the vaulting, Fig. 132. The influence of the Renaissance was felt very early in Devonshire, although Gothic details persist for many years in clerical woodwork. There is curiously little influence from other counties to be found in this Devonshire woodwork. It is rich, but the fact that it is recognisable in an unmistakable way shows that the variety of the Norfolk or Suffolk work is lacking. Thus the two screen doors, Fig. 136, said to have come from a former Bishop's Palace at Exeter, but, obviously, belonging to a church screen, do not need any reference to a place of origin to stamp them as Devonshire work. A comparison of this illustration with the Atherington screen, Fig. 133, will show almost an identity of design in the two examples. It is usual to describe the later Gothic as depraved, and it certainly loses in dignity as it advances in intricacy, but technical skill of the highest order can be seen in the gorgeous bressummers with their bewildering wealth of carving, as at Atherington, Fig. 134, Chulmleigh, Fig. 142, Coldridge, Fig. 143, Lapford, Fig. 145, and Swimbridge, Figs. 149 and 150. At the same time, the tendency towards monotony, in these richly carved beams, will be noticed. The creation of this elaborate work must have been restricted to a very narrow locality; probably in the neighbourhood of Exeter. Apart from their almost barbaric splendour, these screens frequently impress by their enormous size. At Bovey Tracey, Fig. 138, Halberton, Fig. 139, Chulmleigh, Fig. 140, Lapford, Fig. 144, Swimbridge, Fig. 147, and elsewhere, they stretch across the whole width of nave and aisles. In lofts enriched with tabernacle or niched work, as at Atherington, Fig. 135, these Devonshire screens must have been especially rich, although only a few have survived. Atherington is a very elaborate example, richly carved on both east and west sides, although the latter is, by far, the most ornate.