January meeting – Angel Roof Churches in East Anglia – Sarah Cassell

For our first meeting of 2020 we welcome Dr Sarah Cassell, an Associate Tutor at UEA where she completed her PhD thesis on angel roofs in late medieval East Anglian churches.

Amongst the most distinctive features of some late-fourteenth-century to mid- sixteenth-century East Anglian parish churches are their open timber roofs with angelic carvings. Carved angels form, or are attached to, the beam ends or principal timbers, at prayer, or carrying musical instruments, symbols of Christ’s Passion, implements of the Mass or heraldic devices. These angel roofs proliferated across East Anglia in the wake of the unveiling of Richard II’s prestigious remodelled roof at Westminster Hall (c. 1393-9), yet their relationship with the structure and imagery of the Westminster roof is not straightforward. As the talk will show, different structural roof types and varied angelic representations were concurrent throughout the period, rather than following patterns of linear development. Connections between patronage and craftsmanship in urban centres and their rural hinterlands will be discussed. These roofs present a substantial body of previously neglected visual material for investigating the significance of angelic imagery and its relationship to worship and other activity at ground level, in comprehensive representational schemes, often covering the entire nave. Also, the talk will contend that there was a deliberate association between angel roof imagery and other church art, especially the Rood, in a significant group of churches.

We’ll be meeting on Saturday, January 18th at 2.00pm at Needham Village Hall, High Road, Needham, IP20 9LB. All welcome, admission is £2.00 for members, £3.00 for non-members.

The usual refreshments will be served and we hope to have some suitably angelic snacks available.

Anglici quasi angelici

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