The Lenten Rood Veil

Percy Dearmer, the author of the Parson’s Handbook, was vicar of St Mary’s Primrose Hill in Hampstead, so it is no surprise that this glorious church has a full set of Lenten array. The church also follows the pre-Reformation practice of veiling the great rood at the chancel step and they use a veil dating from Dearmer’s incumbency, strikingly stencilled in black and red. In medieval liturgical practice the great rood above the rood screen was covered up with the other images in the church at the beginning of Lent. However, while the other veils remained until the Paschal Vigil, in the Sarum Use the rood veil was dramatically removed at the end of the procession on Palm Sunday as the priest twice sung Ave rex noster, fili david (hail our king, son of David) and the chanters took up the anthem. The veil at Primrose Hill is suspended on a pulley system and they still follow the medieval custom of unveiling it on Palm Sunday as Sarumsleuth’s photos below demonstrate.
Here for good measure are a couple of pictures of the Lenten array in other parts of this lovely church.
For the medieval practice of unveiling the rood on Palm Sunday see: The Use of Sarum I, Richard Pynson Processionale ad Usum Sarum 1502 (Boethius Press, 1980)

5 thoughts on “The Lenten Rood Veil

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  1. ps a chink in my Dearmerite armour is that I would love to see what the Primrose Hill chancel brickwork looks like un-whitewashed. I see from internet scans that the brickwork of St Augustine’s, Queen’s Gate has been stripped of its 1920’s paint. The reality beats the h-ll out of the shadow of the patterns Butterfield’s scheme that used to be discernible through the distemper. I don’t for an instant imagine that St Mary’s PH is in the same league, but it would be interesting to see what is under there. Do you have access to any early photographs?


  2. “My university chapel sported an unbleached linen fiddleback chasuble during Lent” – now I’ve seen Sarum blue fiddlebacks, but a Lenten array one is something new. Somewhere I have a postcard of the interior of Primrose Hill before the whitewash went on. I don’t seem to be able to lay my hands on it. Ah, ha, found it. It shows the chancel whitened and the nave unwhitened. The brickwork is plain with details, capitals, arches shafts in limestone. None of the brick polychromy that Butterfield favoured.


  3. There are a number of pictures at the back of the church which show it before the whitewash arrived and the reredos was cut down. Beleive me, it looks far better now!


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