Art & Architecture: Choir & Sanctuary
High above the middle of the church, at the entrance to the Choir, there is a finely carved Rood Screen, with statues of Jesus on the cross, Mary the mother of Jesus and St John the Evangelist, together with two six-winged seraphim. In the middle ages the Rood Screen would have been a significant visual barrier between the nave and choir, it symbolises a gateway between this world and the heavenly kingdom.
Temple Moore, the designer of the church, wanted it to have a medieval feel, so he included a Rood Screen, but he made it less dominant so that the proportions of the building and the focus on the High Altar were not disturbed.
The High Altar in the sanctuary is the most important part of the building. This is the table where we remember the time when Jesus gathered his followers around a table; he shared bread and wine and in a symbolic meal told them that he would be with them always. Two thousand years later we gather around this table, we give thanks, break bread and share it, and take wine and share it, like Jesus did, and because he told us to. When we do these things Christ is very near to us.
The altar is stone, usually covered in fine fabrics, and usually with candles on it. The top of the altar is a single huge slab of stone.
The High Altar is at the opposite end of the church to the font, they are the axis of the building and the reason for everything else that is here.
Behind the High Altar is a richly painted screen (Reredos), running the whole width of the sanctuary, at the centre is the figure of Christ holding an open book, he is flanked by the twelve disciples. From left to right the figures are: Matthias, James the Less, Matthew, Bartholomew, Andrew, John, Jesus, Peter, James, Thomas, Philip, Simon, and Jude. Like much of the art in All Saints' there is a lot of symbolism in the pictures, the saints are only identified by the symbols they are carrying. The screen was designed by Mrs Leslie Moore, (Temple Moore's daughter) and painted by Charles Head of Colchester.
To the right of the altar is a credence and piscina made of green Irish marble. The kneelers at the altar rail were designed by Elisabeth Collins.
The Great East Window contains 25 panels telling the story of Jesus’ life, starting in the bottom left hand corner with the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem.
Above the twenty-five panels of the life of Christ the window shows part of the “family tree” of Jesus, quite literally a tree growing out of the side the prophet Jesse with various ancestors and above them Mary, Jesus’ mother.
This window is loosely modelled on the great medieval windows in cathedrals, because it is much smaller than cathedral windows the scenes are quite small and hard to see.