A drawing, by Romain-Walker and Tanner, believed to be dated 1884 is
available showing the alterations which were made at the time and it is
interesting to see the “round headed aperture” before its replacement by the
present “Decorated” window. The Reverend Stanley Leathes, Rector of this parish
in 1889, made the following entry in the Clyffe Register —“The original tracery of the East Window for which no use could be
found, was placed as a parapet on top of the School wall facing the South
Porch”. It is still there today!
The chancel is usually separated from the nave by a screen. In medieval
times the nave of the church was used for many things, meetings and markets and
various secular gatherings, this being the only indoor public meeting place of
any size in the parish. It became necessary to erect a screen to divide nave
from chancel, with the Sacramental Presence and worship east of the partition
and the secular and social affairs taking place in the nave. In many modern
dual-purpose church buildings a partition operates in a similar way. Only the
lower part of the 14th century screen remains; the upper part appears to have
suffered deliberate destruction probably during the Commonwealth period when it
is believed that the stained glass windows of St. Helen’s suffered a similar
The Reverend H. R. Lloyd, writing
in ‘The Clyffe Parish Almanack for 1870’, notes — “Puritan
violence has sawn away the upper part of the chancel screen, which, judging
from what is left, must have been of excellent work”.
In 1909 a new upper part was restored to the screen during the
incumbency of the Reverend H. B. Boyd, who wrote in the February magazine of
“Every admirer of our grand old church will be glad to know that a
scheme is afloat for restoring the top portion of the 14th century chancel
screen, which was destroyed 150 years ago by two Philistine Churchwardens”.
The cost of this new screen was £14.4s and was the combined gift of the
Reverend H. B. Boyd, Mr. Driver and Mrs. Lake. It was dedicated by the Lord Bishop
of Rochester on Sunday 31st October 1909.
The discerning eye will note the absence of a chancel arch. No trace or
mention of one here can be found, and whether a chancel arch existed before the
original chancel was burned down in AD 1350 we cannot say.
At the north end of the existing screen the doorway which came out on to
the 14th century Rood may be seen. The top section of the stone stairway
remains, but the lower steps have been broken up and mostly removed, probably
when the lower doorway was sealed off. Some rubble remains, but nothing of