St Albans – the screen of the martyrs

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

st albans january hols 047

In the Anglican year, our visit still fell within the season of the Nativity and the figures depicting the birth of Jesus still stood before the altar in the nave. The brightly coloured statues on the altar screen seemed incongrous somehow, even though such colour would have covered the walls long ago.

The stone rood screen was built by Abbot Thomas de la Mare, around the time of the Black Death (1349-51) to divide the lay from side of the Abbey from the monastic. It was richly carved, filled with statues and surmounted by the Rood, or Cross. At either side of the screen two doors were built through which the monks could process, bearing the relics of St Alban. These two doors remain, both flanked by a series of portraits of the Green Man.

The statues and carvings were destroyed at the Reformation, when Henry VIII broke with Rome…

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