At Ranworth, a small Norfolk village at the head of Ranworth Broad, the screen is probably the finest in East Anglia. It is of the late fifteenth century, of delicate proportions, and extends across the chancel in the form of eight bays, the opening of the chancel being contrived in the central two. Beyond the screen are retables on the north and south, with subsidiary altars below, and projecting into the nave are parclose screens with flying buttresses, Figs. 117 and 118, which shield the parochial altars. The groining to the loft, Fig. 116, was formerly in the form of a double vault, of which the outer members have disappeared, together with the loft itself. The groining seen in the illustration continued downwards in pendentive form, then sprang upwards and outwards to the loft-beam. The mutilation has been partially masked by the modern cornice. Originally the effect of this double vault must have been unique in its rich decorative effect. The parclose screens are of panelled framing, the principal posts assisting in the support of the loft-beam. The outer sconce-posts are braced to those behind by richly decorated flying buttresses, one of which is shown in Fig. 118.
Fig. 158. Lavenham, Suffolk, The Oxford Pew. - Mr. C. J. Abbott, Photo.
Fig. 159. Westminster Abbey, Chapel Of Henry Vii. - Last quarter of fifteenth century.
Fig. 160. Ufford, Suffolk, The Font Cover.
Fig. 161. Ufford Font Cover, Detail.
The double groining was supported by the insertion of an intermediate bressummer or joist in the floor of the loft. The original effect of this screen, with its painted pendentive double-vaulting before the chancel, the retables complete with their delicately tabernacled niches, pierced cusped arches, and decorated vaulting above, the whole surmounted by a rood-loft of equal richness of design, must have been one of extreme beauty. The figure paintings upon the whole of the screen are of wonderful charm of colour and spirituality of drawing. They appear to have been painted in tempera upon a gesso ground. The figures upon the North wing, Fig. 114 (Retable to the Chapel of St. John), are St. Etheldreda, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Agnes and St. Barbara. The background to each figure is in the form of a dossal, upheld by an angel on a panel painted with floral devices. In the lower panels in the central, portion of the screen are representations of the twelve apostles, in the following order, with their names written in Gothic characters accompanying each.
Fig. 162. Ufford, Suffolk, The Painted Roof.
North side ; ofdoorway.
Sancte Symon (emblem: a fish).
Sancte Thoma (emblem : spear).
Bartholomee Sancte (knife and book).
Sancte Iacobe (pilgrim's staff and book).
St. James the Greater.
Sancte Andea (cross and pouch at his girdle).
Petre (keys and book).
Here is the Chancel opening
See photo detail of figures.
Sce Paule (sword and book).
Sce Johes (chalice and dragon).
Sce Philippe (basket of loaves).
Sce Jacobe (fuller's club).
St. James the Less.
Sce Jude (boat).
Sce Matthee (sword).
Fig. 163. Ashbocking, Suffolk, Font Cover.
Fig. 164. Pilton, Devon, Font Cover And Canopy.
Fig. 165. Barking, Suffolk, Font Cover
The retable to the South Altar, Fig. 115 (Chapel of our Lady), depicts saintly motherhood. St. Salome with SS. James and John, the Virgin Mary with the Holy Child, St. Mary Cleophas with her four sons, James, Joses, Simon and Jude, and St. Margaret, all with angels above supporting flowered dossals. On the parclose screens the outer sides are painted with saints and fathers, the two most masterly paintings being St. Michael on the South, Fig. 117, and St. George on the North.
The detail of the paintings of the twelve apostles, six of which are shown in Fig. 113, are both choice and curious. The under robes are gilded and outlined in black, dark brown and red. The patterning of these robes is an instance of the love of the early painters for quaint conceits in the introduction of figures of beasts or birds into their floral or conventional ornament. An example of this can be seen in the robe of St. Simon on the extreme left. The backgrounds are of dark green and red, with floral diaper patterns. The small flowers introduced everywhere, on the mouldings and the panels of the vaulting, are faithful representations of the wild blossoms of the locality.
Though sadly mutilated, the screen at Southwold, Fig. 119, presents, even in its present condition, a good example of the refined design and skilful construction of the mediaeval woodworker, and the taste in painted decoration and gesso work of the artist craftsman. It shows, also, the high level to which these arts attained in the late fifteenth century. It extends the whole width of the Church at the first column of the nave arcade, forming chapels to the North and South aisles, these being partitioned from the chancel by elaborate canopied parclose screens of which one is shown in Fig. 120. The portion spanning the nave is somewhat higher than that of the aisles, and is of very graceful proportions, the detail of the base panelling, and applied mullions ornamented with diagonal pinnacles, richly moulded and capped, being extremely fine. The groining of the destroyed loft, judging by the delicate beauty of the fragments of the pierced vaultings with their carved finials, was probably of similar form to that at Ranworth. The fragment of the groining, which is still attached to the head of the screen, undoubtedly formed part of the loft front, which was evidently designed with a series of vaulted niches, probably decorated with floral forms, and the panels with figures of saints.