Observations on the changing form of chancel screens in late medieval Norfolk

Helen Lunnon

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Based on evidence collected by surveying a sample of Norfolk churches, this paper presents a reappraisal of the presumed ubiquity of chancel screens in late medieval parish churches. Building on this foundation, evidence is presented and discussed regarding the supposed homogenous form of chancel screens, and the relationship of these screens to other elements such as lofts and beams. By considering the broad period of c. 1330–1537, during which chancel screens were being constructed or renewed, this paper sets out the major changes in their structure, decoration and patronage. Whilst perhaps not ubiquitous, chancel screens did achieve and retain a widespread popularity during a protracted period. The paper offers explanations for their prevalence and argues that, in being representative of the gates of heaven, chancel screens were an important element in the setting of the medieval liturgy at parish level. It concludes with a discussion of patronage which is intended to reinforce the points made about the symbolic and physical centrality of these furnishings in Norfolk parish churches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-131
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the British Archaeological Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010


  • Chancel Screens
  • Medieval Norfolk

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