Rood Screen Stairs - Church of St James the Great, Stocks Green, Castle Acre, Norfolk, PE32 2AA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member greysman
N 52° 42.148 E 000° 41.160
31U E 343652 N 5841685
The church of St James the Great stands in the middle of the village between the ruins of the Norman castle and those of Castle Acre Priory.
Waymark Code: WMVRJ2
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 05/24/2017
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 0

The village of Castle Acre is a major tourist attraction in Norfolk. The church dedicated to St James the Great stands in the middle of the village between the ruins of the Norman castle, to the east, and those of Castle Acre Priory, to the west. This Grade I listed parish church is largely C14th and C15th but there are some details from c.1300. It was restored by Ewan Christian, architect (1814–95). Built of rubble flint with squared knapped flint and cut stone dressings, lead roofed aisles, with green slate nave and chancel roofs. It consists of a west tower, a five-bay nave with clerestorey, north and south aisles, a north porch, a three-bay chancel, and north vestry.

The spiral rood stairs and rood loft door are built into the south side of the chancel arch behind where the pulpit is now. The rood screen, no longer in existence, was part of an apparatus that ran the full width of the church, enclosing chapels at the east ends of both north and south aisles as well as separating the nave from the chancel. In Medieval times the rood loft was where the Great Rood or 'Christ Crucified', a large carved figure of Christ on the cross, was placed, normally supported by statues of saints, the Virgin Mary and St.John were favourites. The word rood is derived from the Saxon word rood or rode, meaning "cross" or "crucifix". The wooden framing at the east end of the aisle chapels are the frames of the enclosing parclose screens and you can see where the parclose lofts were. Once you could have walked on them, and the rood loft, right across the church. That in the south aisle encloses the St Nicholas chapel, which was its medieval designation. A surviving couple of screen panels feature his monogram.

The dado of the roodscreen is all that survives, but the panels have been over-restored. They feature the 11 original disciples and St Matthias. Although much of the painting is now Victorian, they appear to reproduce faithfully what was there before. Two points of interest are the figures of St James and St Andrew. James has had his eyes gouged out, a reminder of how unpopular his cult was with the Anglican reformers because of his association with pilgrimage, which in turn was connected with the doctrines of purgatory and prayers for the souls of the dead, both anathema to protestants. Andrew has been peppered with gun shot - this time probably not as a theological statement, but a misfiring of a bird gun. In the late 17th and 18th centuries, when the churches of England had generally fallen into a poor state of repair, there were often problems with birds, especially jackdaws, setting up home in the nave and chancel roofs. Perhaps Andrew had the misfortune to have a bird land on his panel, attracting the wrath of some local gun-toting youngster.

Words from British Listed Buildings, Simon Knott's Churches of East Anglia, and Pevsner's Norfolk 1 Buildings with amendments from own on site observations.

Coordinates are for the north porch entrance.

Approximate Age of Artefact: c.1300

Relevant Website: Not listed

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