Bodley and Garner in Lincolnshire
If you ever find yourself near Lincoln, take a detour ten miles south to the village of Brant Broughton, where the church of St Helen is a building that really shouldn't be missed. The church is an example of an exceptional and lavish restoration by Bodley and Garner. The restoration was initiated by Canon F. H Sutton, who was inducted to the living of Brant Broughton in 1873. He was inducted into the vicar's stall in a mean Georgian chancel attached to a run-down late medieval nave and aisles. Sutton set about a restoration almost immediately and by 1877 G F Bodley had transformed the building, replacing the Georgian chancel with a model Tractarian chancel in the Decorated style. It is this chancel that I want to focus on in this post.
Passing through the rood screen between the choir stalls, you move across a chequerboard floor of black and white marble into a lofty sanctuary. The chancel has all the liturgical furniture of a medieval chancel, including a triple sedilia and piscina. The focus of the chancel is the high altar set on a raised footpace with a typical lofty Bodley reredos behind it. The reredos painted in typical muted reds and greens and gilded, has as its centrepiece a fifteenth century German panel painting of the the Ascension, given by Canon Sutton.
The painting is set under a triple canopy of ogee arches and is flanked by small shafting figures of angels and larger figures of the Evangelists.
The altar is further enriched with glorious textiles. Two riddel curtains of stamped velvet hang at either end. The frontals were all provided by Bodley's firm Watts and Co and include a red frontal of stamped velvet and a blue frontal with alternating panels of velvet and Bodley's own 'Gothic' silk.
All told the chancel is a wonderful ensemble, but there is more to see in the rest of the church. That will have to wait for another post.