Saint Edmund, Downham Market, Norfolk

 Online Guidebook - Rood Screen

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The carved oak Rood Screen and Pulpit are in fact amongst the most recent additions to the church, being given by the Wayman family in 1910, superceding the 1872-3 refurbishments, and are by *Geoffry Lucas (1872-1947), who designed only one other Rood Screen, at St Gabriel's, Brynmill, Swansea (1914).  Although he did this and some other ecclesiastical work (for Percy Dearmer's "Warham Guild") Lucas is better known as an architect of Letchworth Garden City.                                                                 * 'Geoffry' rather than the more frequent spelling 'Geoffrey'


Architect's impression, 'The Building News', Nov 25th 1910.  (Note indication of gate, and painted saints in panels.)
Architect's impression, 'The Building News', Nov 25th 1910. (Note indication of gate, and painted saints in panels.)

Geoffry Lucas Rood Screen - St Edmund's  (1912)
Geoffry Lucas Rood Screen - St Edmund's (1912)

Geoffry Lucas Rood Screen - St Gabriel's Swansea (1914)
Geoffry Lucas Rood Screen - St Gabriel's Swansea (1914)

Nave and choir pews 1872-3, eagle Lectern 1886, Rood Screen 1912, glass chandelier c.1730.
Nave and choir pews 1872-3, eagle Lectern 1886, Rood Screen 1912, glass chandelier c.1730.

The Rood.  Our crucified Lord with Our Lady and St John (Jn19)
The Rood. Our crucified Lord with Our Lady and St John (Jn19)

The Purpose of a Rood Screen

As originally envisaged (in mediaeval times) the purpose of a Rood Screen ... “... was to divide the chancel, with its altar, from the nave, which was often used for secular purposes.  It was an invariable part of the furnishing of every church until the Reformation, usually placed directly beneath the chancel arch, though sometimes brought forward slightly so that it could stretch right across the nave and aisles. The screen was generally surmounted by a loft, upon which stood the Rood, a giant figure of Christ crucified. The Reformation saw the destruction of virtually every Rood and the great majority of lofts, though the screens themselves were often spared as they were a useful feature in the ordering of the church.”

Thomas Muckley, Rood Screens in East Anglia (1995).


In pious memory of Henry Wayman and his wife Helene
In pious memory of Henry Wayman and his wife Helene

And of Harry their son
And of Harry their son

Although the present pulpit dates from 1912, a pulpit was certainly part of the 1872-3 refurbishment.  From what can be made out from period photographs, this seems to have had 'linen-fold' panels (like those decorating the present small chancel altar).  Click here to go to 'vintage photographs'.

The 1872-3 was replaced by (or possibly converted into) the more elaborate canopied pulpit, with emblems of the Lord’s Passion around the bottom, presented to the Church in 1912.

Access to the pulpit is through the rather strange doorway piercing the stonework.  Originally this doorway would have led to stairway up to the Rood Loft, no longer in existence.


Canopied pulpit 1912
Canopied pulpit 1912

Canopied pulpit, accessed by original doorway to Rood Loft
Canopied pulpit, accessed by original doorway to Rood Loft