Holy Trinity, Meldreth: the Chancel Furnishings

Further work on the chancel can be dated to the 15th century, when another window, together with a priest’s door with a window above, were inserted into the south wall.  Also dating to the 15th century are the poppy-head stalls, but parts of these benches do not belong to this church, having been brought here from a church in Suffolk by the Rev Clare following the relaying of the floor.

The most conspicuous 15th-century insertion was that of the wooden chancel screen, only parts of which survive in the present screen.  It was originally much more substantial with a gallery across the top, access to which was provided by the staircase that had to be added to the north side of the church.  The screen was surmounted by a Rood (the crucified Christ flanked by the Virgin and St John), to which Richard Harvey made a bequest of £3 in 1503.  In 1743 the royal arms with the Ten Commandments filled the space above the screen beneath the chancel arch, perhaps indicating that the wooden altar was set in front of the chancel arch as was often the case after the Reformation.

Medieval altars were destroyed at the Reformation because they contained relics as a requirement of consecration, but in 1561 it was noted that this had not yet happened at Meldreth. The present altar is made up of a sturdy 17th-century altar table, which was brought from St Botolph’s, Cambridge in 1872, with an extended mensa given by George Jebb in 1939. A small table, which may have been the Elizabethan altar, was stolen from the church some years ago.

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