For this church:
Hawton All Saints
Features and Fittings
The renowned 14th century Easter Sepulchre is widely considered to be the best in England and possibly in Europe. The Sepulchre sits at the east end of a composition which also includes a knight’s tomb, an ornate doorway and a hagioscope (squint) which enabled the high altar to be seen from the chapel (now demolished) to the north of the chancel.
The whole, which measures 5.2 m (17ft) x 6.7 m (12ft) high, is set off by a background of diaper leaves and roses, similar to those seen on the back of the pulpitum in Southwell Minster, and is surmounted by a continuous cornice with carvings of flowers, foliage, animals and rosettes.
The tomb, with its knight’s effigy in link-mail, is probably that of Sir Robert de Compton (d1330) who is believed to have been responsible for the building of the chancel around 1320. It sits within an arched recess which is double-cusped and richly ornamented with a crocketed head, terminating in a finial surmounted by the mutilated figure of a bishop. The fact that the shield is obscured indicates that the effigy is unlikely to be in its original position. The carvings around the tomb include a green man and two weepers.
Within the recess is a squint (hagioscope) which would enable a priest in the adjoining chapel (now lost) to see what was happening at the high altar.
This ogee doorway which once opened to a vestry or, more probably, a chapel (now destroyed) has feathering, extremely deep mouldings in the ogee arch with crockets and a finial supporting a statue. It is set between two buttresses with crocketed pinnacles and the whole reflects and complements the tomb arch.
The purpose of the Easter Sepulchre was to receive the consecrated Host on Good Friday, and vigilantly watch over it until Easter morning, when, very early, it was taken out and in solemn state, to the singing of anthems, was carried to the high altar and there placed, thus symbolising the death and resurrection.
The bottom third of the sepulchre consists of four panels with moulded frames containing figures of the Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb where Christ was buried but who slept whilst he rose from the dead. They are dressed in contemporary style and their shields are charged with dragons and profile heads.
Against a background of very fine diaper leaves and roses and above the sleeping sentinels, Christ can be seen climbing out of the tomb. The weeping Mary kneels by the risen Lord and behind, in the recess, stand the two other Marys with boxes of spices. There is a kneeling angel on the extreme left and another on the extreme right. The sculpture unfortunately, has been badly vandalised. There is a recess (which could be shut and locked) where the Blessed Sacrament would have been reserved.
The top scene is that of the Ascension. The eleven Apostles, barefoot, with the Virgin shod, stand gazing at the clouds where, in the centre, Christ’s funeral garment is visible as were his feet. At either side is a censing angel and the whole is flanked by an angel choir.
Chancel (South Side)
The tripartite sedilia and double piscina dominate the south side of the chancel.
The three-seat sedilia is where the celebrant, deacon and sub-deacon sat during parts of the Mass. The carving is fine with beautiful feathering, rich crockets and finials and sculptured figures.
There is a pelican sitting on her nest and feeding her young by pecking at her breast. Nearby two boys are cutting grapes for the wine for the Eucharist; one is also combing his hair. The outer carvings show two men crawling among foliage. A number of saints are being crowned by angels and in the centre St Edmund is holding an arrow, a symbol of his martyrdom. On the left there is St Anne and St Katherine. Also present is St Peter with his keys and Clement, the third pope, with an anchor. Mary Magdalene holds a vase of ointment and Margaret of Antioch has a dragon on a lead at her feet. Several other figures can be seen among the foliage.
This is a double piscina used for washing the priest’s hands. It has a rich ogee crocketed canopy with musicians on either sides: one playing a rebec, the other a psaltery.
The carved heads on either side of the windows probably represent Edward II and Edward III and their queens Philippa and Isabella.
Choir Stalls and Communion Rail
The oak choir stalls and communion rail date from the 1879-80 restoration.
At the east end of the north aisle, where the organ now is, there was once an altar and the piscina with cupsed interior and ogee arch over can be seen on the south wall.
A 14th or 15th century statue niche has a canopy from an earlier period with a crowned 'MR' monogram (Maria Regina), an indication that this was a Lady Chapel. The plinth is an angel carrying a shield, the top left quarter of which is the Molyneux cross.
At the east end of the aisle, in the north-east corner, is a pinnacled canopy with a badly damaged bracket support: all that remains of a statue niche. There is also an empty angled statue niche in the south-east corner.
On the south wall is an arched empty and blocked recess in the south wall which corresponds with the same feature outside. An arched piscina is located next to the recess on the interior wall.
The screen, separating the nave from the chancel, is made out of oak and probably dates from the latter half of the 15th century. It is pierced with quatrefoils, possibly to enable those kneeling in the nave to see the altar. Above, on the inner north arcade wall, the edge of the rood loft can be seen; this only became visible with the removal of plaster during the Victorian restoration.
The four-sided pulpit is in oak and matches the reader's desk on the other side of the chancel arch.
Both date from the restoration of 1879-80.
Some of the oak benches are pre-reformation – the medieval ones had an inch or two added to them in later times.
The nave and north aisle roofs have bosses; those in the latter notably featuring the Molyneux cross, foliage and a green man.