Bere Regis Village Website Bere Regis Village website
Bere Regis Village, Dorset
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.
Bere Regis Village website

The Nave Roof

In his 'Buildings of England' series in 1972, Nikolaus Pevsner called our Church roof the "finest in Dorset". Come and see why... The magnificent nave roof of about 1485 is quite unique for this part of the country. It is generally considered to have been the gift of Cardinal Morton, which seems likely enough as the roof bears his coat of arms and other symbols associated with him, and a parish of this size would not otherwise have been able to acquire such lavish workmanship. Structurally it is supported by six trusses each consisting of a large tie beam carried on wall posts and corbel springers, and with vertical posts above with cusped and arched braces supporting the principal rafters at ridge and purlin positions. Below the tie beams there are arched braces decorated with cuspings, which spring from the corbels and meet centrally at large carved and painted pendant bosses. The spandrils are filled with vertical barred tracery and include pseudo hammer beam projections, carved into full length human figures representing the twelve apostles. Carved and painted bosses occur where the secondary rafters and purlins intersect, and there are carved and painted human heads on the wall plates midway between the trusses. Click the Diagram for a full sized Image The carved and painted figures and symbols are of considerable interest and are illustrated in the Diagram above. Take the top of the diagram as representing the Eastern end of the roof, the left side of the diagram the Southern side of the roof etc. The central bosses depict, from the east, (A) foliage, (B) a man's head, generally considered to represent Cardinal Morton, (C) the arms of the Morton family, (D) a Tudor rose symbolising the union of the two houses of Lancaster and York, (E) an entwined cord, said to symbolise the marriage which Morton brought about between Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, so ending the Wars of the Roses, (F) a coat of arms-argent a cross gules. The ten carved and painted heads on the wall plates (in-between the carved full length figures) were presumably intended to have some significance originally and probably represent biblical or national figures. One is shown below. It is however the twelve figures of the apostles which claim the greatest interest, and although in Victorian times it was considered that they were not the apostles, they were regarded as such in 1738 when this entry appears in the churchwardens accounts: "Paid Benjamin Moores for Cleaning & Oyling the Apostles ... 4s. Od." There can be little serious doubt that they represent the twelve apostles, as Peter (left hand side, 3rd from bottom) is definitely recognisable by his mitre, keys and model church, and Judas Iscariot holding a money bag (right hand side, at top) and Philip with a pilgrim's staff (left hand side, 3rd from top) are also recognisable, and doubtless other more fragile identifying symbols have been broken off from time to time in the past. Close-up of Apostle Philip It is reasonable to assume that the original designer or carver of almost 500 years ago, having decided to represent the twelve apostles, would have arranged them in some sort of order, and it is possible that this order is simply alphabetical. If each figure is allocated a number, and assuming that number 1 would occur in one of the four corners, there are twelve possible ways in which they could be numbered, but the most conventional method is to take the north side first and to number from left to right. This means that number 1 occurs in the north west corner and the remainder follow from left to right around the church, finishing in the south west corner. This numbering sequence gives us the names below (taking into account that Peter is actually Simon Peter and comes under `S' and not `P') where it can be seen that the three identifiable figures (in bold) fall into alphabetical order as follows: 1, Andrew; 2, Bartholomew; 3, James (John's brother); 4, James; 5, John; 6, Judas Iscariot; 7, Lebbaeus (or Judas the brother of James according to St. Luke's gospel); 8, Matthew; 9, Philip; 10, Simon Peter; 11, Simon Zelotes; 12, Thomas. Assuming this supposition to be correct, not only do the three identifiable figures fit into place, but several others appear to also. For example, Andrew (1), a fisherman, is wearing what could have been the 15th century version of a sou'wester, and John (5) and Matthew (8) the two gospel writers of the twelve, are holding books. Again, of the two James's, one (3) is very similar to John (5) having almost identical robes, beards and hair styles, and may have been the carver's way of indicating that they were brothers (James and John, sons of Zebedee). The Workmanship on this roof is remarkable; look at the close-up section of the roof below. All told, this roof has provided both inspiration and comfort to parishioners and visitors alike for over 500 years. For it to have ever been constructed in a Parish as small as Bere Regis, is a true blessing.
Bere Regis Village, Dorset
Bere Regis Village Website
© 2003, Bere Regis Village Website.

The Nave Roof

In his 'Buildings of England' series in 1972, Nikolaus Pevsner called our Church roof the "finest in Dorset". Come and see why... The magnificent nave roof of about 1485 is quite unique for this part of the country. It is generally considered to have been the gift of Cardinal Morton, which seems likely enough as the roof bears his coat of arms and other symbols associated with him, and a parish of this size would not otherwise have been able to acquire such lavish workmanship. Structurally it is supported by six trusses each consisting of a large tie beam carried on wall posts and corbel springers, and with vertical posts above with cusped and arched braces supporting the principal rafters at ridge and purlin positions. Below the tie beams there are arched braces decorated with cuspings, which spring from the corbels and meet centrally at large carved and painted pendant bosses. The spandrils are filled with vertical barred tracery and include pseudo hammer beam projections, carved into full length human figures representing the twelve apostles. Carved and painted bosses occur where the secondary rafters and purlins intersect, and there are carved and painted human heads on the wall plates midway between the trusses. Click the Diagram for a full sized Image The carved and painted figures and symbols are of considerable interest and are illustrated in the Diagram above. Take the top of the diagram as representing the Eastern end of the roof, the left side of the diagram the Southern side of the roof etc. The central bosses depict, from the east, (A) foliage, (B) a man's head, generally considered to represent Cardinal Morton, (C) the arms of the Morton family, (D) a Tudor rose symbolising the union of the two houses of Lancaster and York, (E) an entwined cord, said to symbolise the marriage which Morton brought about between Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, so ending the Wars of the Roses, (F) a coat of arms- argent a cross gules. The ten carved and painted heads on the wall plates (in-between the carved full length figures) were presumably intended to have some significance originally and probably represent biblical or national figures. One is shown below. It is however the twelve figures of the apostles which claim the greatest interest, and although in Victorian times it was considered that they were not the apostles, they were regarded as such in 1738 when this entry appears in the churchwardens accounts: "Paid Benjamin Moores for Cleaning & Oyling the Apostles ... 4s. Od." There can be little serious doubt that they represent the twelve apostles, as Peter (left hand side, 3rd from bottom) is definitely recognisable by his mitre, keys and model church, and Judas Iscariot holding a money bag (right hand side, at top) and Philip with a pilgrim's staff (left hand side, 3rd from top) are also recognisable, and doubtless other more fragile identifying symbols have been broken off from time to time in the past. Close-up of Apostle Philip It is reasonable to assume that the original designer or carver of almost 500 years ago, having decided to represent the twelve apostles, would have arranged them in some sort of order, and it is possible that this order is simply alphabetical. If each figure is allocated a number, and assuming that number 1 would occur in one of the four corners, there are twelve possible ways in which they could be numbered, but the most conventional method is to take the north side first and to number from left to right. This means that number 1 occurs in the north west corner and the remainder follow from left to right around the church, finishing in the south west corner. This numbering sequence gives us the names below (taking into account that Peter is actually Simon Peter and comes under `S' and not `P') where it can be seen that the three identifiable figures (in bold) fall into alphabetical order as follows: 1, Andrew; 2, Bartholomew; 3, James (John's brother); 4, James; 5, John; 6, Judas Iscariot; 7, Lebbaeus (or Judas the brother of James according to St. Luke's gospel); 8, Matthew; 9, Philip; 10, Simon Peter; 11, Simon Zelotes; 12, Thomas. Assuming this supposition to be correct, not only do the three identifiable figures fit into place, but several others appear to also. For example, Andrew (1), a fisherman, is wearing what could have been the 15th century version of a sou'wester, and John (5) and Matthew (8) the two gospel writers of the twelve, are holding books. Again, of the two James's, one (3) is very similar to John (5) having almost identical robes, beards and hair styles, and may have been the carver's way of indicating that they were brothers (James and John, sons of Zebedee). The Workmanship on this roof is remarkable; look at the close-up section of the roof below. All told, this roof has provided both inspiration and comfort to parishioners and visitors alike for over 500 years. For it to have ever been constructed in a Parish as small as Bere Regis, is a true blessing.