Monday, December 10, 2012

Eagle lecterns

click photo to enlarge
Visit any church and you will invariably find a lectern. These pedestals with an inclined tray at the top are designed to hold an open Bible from which a reading may be made during a service. In Church of England buildings these are usually free-standing, are placed on the other side of the chancel arch from the pulpit, and are based on one of the only two designs that have found widespread favour down the centuries.

The most basic form of lectern is a simple column made of wood or metal (usually brass) on top of which is a rectangular tray with a lip to prevent the Bible slipping from it. This tray may be plain or ornately pierced. The other model for the lectern - and by far the most popular - features a column, sometimes with clawed feet or small lions at the base and a ball at the top. Standing on the ball with outspread wings to form the inclined tray is an eagle. These too are made of wood or brass, with the metal version being most common. Many brass eagle lecterns are Victorian designs and may feature a dedicatory inscription noting the date and donor's name. The example shown in the smaller photograph is at Swineshead, Linconshire. It has as inscription of 1898. The elaborate red cover protects the Bible when it is not in use. Some eagle lecterns remain from the medieval period. These are the originals on which the Victorian restorers based their models. You can often work out the age of a metal eagle lectern by the degree to which the magnificent bird is accurately represented: the more it looks like a parrot, the older it is likely to be!

But, whilst lecterns have tended to follow these two basic designs, every now and again I come across one where the designer has sought to break free from this straight-jacket. One that immediately springs to mind is in the church of All Saints at Harmston, Lincolnshire. This has an angel with upstretched arms holding the inclined shelf above her head, Atlas-like. Today's photograph shows a detail of an example of the most common lectern design in the church at Folkingham, Lincolnshire.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 67mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/50
ISO: 3200
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On