The timber roof of St. John the Baptist, Bere Regis

Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis

General view of timber roof, St John the Baptist, Bere Regis

In Bere Regis church can be found a carved and painted oak roof, dating from the fifteenth century. This was allegedly paid for by Cardinal Morton, who was born in the parish and later became Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury. The twelve protruding beams are carved into figures dressed in medieval costume, probably either monastic figures or (more likely, given their iconographic content) meant to represent the twelve Apostles. It is thought that the prominent face in one of the timber bosses is a representation of Morton himself.

Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis

Detail of a face, supposed to be that of Cardinal Morton

Speculation remains as to which apostle is which, although St Peter as a bishop with his iconographical keys is quite distinctive. A scheme devised by Fred Pitfield (and others) assumes that the figures are arranged in alphabetical order, moving clockwise around the church. Starting from the north-east corner of the nave, this would make the general order: St Andrew, St Bartholomew, St James the Greater, St James the Less, St John, Judas Iscariot (north side); St Jude, St Matthew, St Philip, St (Simon) Peter, St Simon Zealotes, St Thomas (south side). Whoever they are meant to represent, the figures are extremely interesting, life-sized versions of people wearing fifteenth-century costume. The distances involved means that the photographs included here cannot do real justice to the reality.

Four Apostles: South side, from West to East (left to right on the left-hand side of the church)

Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis  Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis

Left: St. Matthew (?); Right: St Philip (?)

Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis  Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis

Left: St Peter (Simon Peter); Right: Simon the Zealot (?)

Four Apostles: North side, from West to East (left to right on right-hand side of the church)

Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis  Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis

Left: St Bartholomew (?); Right: St James the Greater (?)

Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis  Hammer Beam Roof, Bere Regis

Left: St James the Less (?); Right: St John (?)


Sources:


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Maintained by Michael Day, Last updated: 6 August 2009.