The Lent array

in Westminster Abbey.  The high altar at Westminster has a glorious set of Lenten array dating from the 1920s and 30s.  The frontal and dossal, decorated with ox blood red stencilling, were first introduced in 1921. The blue stencilled hangings covering the rest of the altar screen were added in 1935.  Both were designed by Sir Walter Tapper, Surveyor of the Fabric.   

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Click through to Flickr for more detailed views of each picture. 

11 thoughts on “The Lent array

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  1. It is glorious, perhaps the finest set of array anywhere. Fr, no I haven't seen the array at Creake in person. John H has some pictures of it on Flickr, I think. If I remember all the images are veiled, each veil stencilled with the attribute of the saint. Blessed Charles with an axe. I must go.


  2. Thanks, Fr Anthony, for the link, via your user profile, to Andrew Teather's Preston site. I was a follower of his Prestwich blog and am delighted to see that he's up and running again. Like Allan, Andrew runs an interesting, worthwhile site.The Blessed Charles does tend to separate the sheep from the goats, doesn't he?


  3. I must confess that I do not find the stencilling very convincing in this case. I much prefer the work at Southwark, which I suspect is Comper's. Still it is wonderful to see the Abbey high altar fully veiled.


  4. Davis, the work at Southwark is Comper's see later post. Comper's work at Southwark is more delicate and original I think. However, what the Southwark array makes up for in delicacy, it looses in impact. The Westminster array has much more visual impact in the space, I think.


  5. Whilst I agree the Abbey Veil has more impact, I still find it oddly clunky. I love the copper green cross at Southwark.


  6. Don't you think there is a fundamental flaw in the Westminster Lenten array that defeats the purpose of using it? Figures of the crucifixion, whether roods or on reredoses, were veiled in order to be concealed. Yet here at Westminster a crucifix with attendant figures are stencilled on the surface when a bare cross should suffice. What this suggests to me is the amateurism of Jocelyn Perkins in comparison with the learning and artistry of Comper, and Tapper's willingness to conform to a client's wishes. Perkins's pageantry was widely mocked at the time by adherents of both Roman and Sarum ceremonies.


  7. I have loved the Westminster Abbey veils since I first saw pictures of them over a half century ago. There may be amateurism there but it is a matter of love of both the Abbey and of the English Use. I might prefer what some else would have done better, but at least Perkins saw that it was actually done.


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