The Reredos Project at St Cuthbert's
Culture > Heritage
St Cuthbert's Church
St Cuthbert Street
The project focussed on two large stone medieval reredos frameworks in the church, and 440 broken pieces of the sculpture once contained in them. Dismantled and hidden in the walls of the church during the Reformation, they were rediscovered as recently as 1848. Ironically, their long interment preserved much of their medieval paint intact. This unusual survival renders them potentially the most important assemblage of late medieval painted sculpture in any English parish church
In each of the transepts of St Cuthbert's church there is a large stone reredos, appearing as a carved framework of empty niches. The northern reredos (c. 1400) is formed of two tiers of five niches. These are very richly carved with ribbed vaulting, echoing church architecture of the period. In the south, a much larger framework covers the wall. The southern reredos was commissioned in 1470 and originally had 33 rectangular niches, bordered by an elaborate vine trail springing from the figure of Jesse at its base. This figure – although damaged – is clearly identifiable as the Biblical ancestor of Christ.
The project can offer guided tours in the church for groups on request. They are also able to provide illustrated talks describing the project work. If you are a member of a group (of 10+ people) and would like to request a talk or a tour of the church, please contact Judeth Saunders (Project Coordinator) through the form on the project website
Our volunteers are a team of people passionate about this heritage; they are vital to the running of the project. They assist with all aspects of the project work, from guiding tours of the church to reboxing the collection. We are not currently recruiting for more volunteers, but if you’re interested in the project please join us for tours and events and share your comments and ideas with us. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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