Rood Screens of St. Mary the Virgin, Tunstead

Rood Screens were mediaeval divisions between the chancel and the nave of a church, separating the parishoners (the nave) from the more sacred area of the church (the chancel). St. Mary the Virgin’s church, Tunstead houses an important display of Rood Screens which, along with the screen and rood beam, are amongst the most striking in East Anglia.

Rood Screen of St. Mary's church, Tunstead

Tunstead St Mary’s Rood Screen

A series of bequests indicate that the rood screen was painted in 1470-90, with images of the Apostles, including St Paul and of the Four Latin Doctors (Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory and Jerome). The saints on the screen are typical for East Anglia, showing the 12 Apostles and the four Latin Doctors of the church. From the north side the figures are St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Matthew, St. Bartholomew, St. Simon, St. Jude, St. Thomas, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. James, St. John the Evangilist, St. Philip, St. James the Less, St. gregory and St. Ambrose. All the Saints have their names painted beneath them, although St. James and St. Jerome appear to have been transposed.

The rood screen and the rood beam survived the Reformations of the sixteenth century, although in the reign of Edward VI (1547-53) much of the church’s colourful medieval decoration was destroyed and the service books, vessels and vestments used in the medieval mass were confiscated. One chalice and one of three bells survived. Of the screen and rood beam, the screen contains an elaborately carved transom and is decorated with various saints.

Rood Screen of Tunstead St Mary Church, Norfolk

Rood Screen looking toward the Nave of the church – St. Mary the Virgin, Tunstead

Thanks to Hungate Medieval Art for additional information
and to Brokentako for the above image of Tunstead Rood Screen and Chancel.
Reviewed 27/1/17