Reredos, Truro Cathedral, Cornwall, carved by Nathaniel Hitch (1845-1938) to a design by the architect J. L. Pearson. 1887. Bath stone. [Click on this and the following image to enlarge them.] The cathedral's stone reredos is very much of its time. Nikolaus Pevsner and Priscilla Metcalf write, "The principal E-W vista leads to the tall reredos, of the same family as Bodley's of 1888 for St Paul's [destroyed] and Johnson's of c.1882 for Newcastle, following C 15 precedent at St Albans and Winchester (289-90).

Close-up of The Crucifixion, in which mourners, soldiers and angels alike crowd around the central figure.

The theme of sacrifice (see Reid 12) is developed by showing Christ crucified at the centre, and other Bible stories, such as that of Abraham and Isaac, on the other panels. Above the momentous crucifixion scene is Christ glorified in heaven. The typology here has been shown to be as complex and intricate as the carving, linking the High Altar to the beautiful Clayton & Bell east window, and lifting the eye and the heart from "earthly worship ... [to] the worship of heaven" (Gay 5). This is one of the most treasured features of the cathedral.

Such a reredos does tend to obstruct the east windows. In writing of St Paul's, for instance, Pevsner and Metcalf say that Bodley's lost carved reredos there was "great in size ... and quality" — but that the present baldacchino has the virtue of letting the light into Wren's chancel, as originally intended (141). However, the reredos at Truro lacks the pinnacles that Pearson had originally envisaged, and is not as tall as the others mentioned above.

Photographs by Robin Banerjee, and captions, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.

Related Material

Sources

Gay, Canon Perran. "Truro Cathedral — A Theological Approach." Truro Cathedral. Web. 21 February 2012.

Pevsner, Nikolaus and Priscilla Metcalf. The Cathedrals of England: Southern England. London: Viking (Penguin), 1985. Print.

Reid, Colin. Cornwall's Cathedral: A Short Guide. Hudson's Heritage Group and Truro Cathedral, 2011. Print.


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Last modified 21 February 2012