Turning from the Tower screen we look up the
Nave, which is comparatively short and filled with pews.
Originally, the congregation stood for worship, and that
is still the case in many eastern churches. The pew, a long,
backed bench upon which congregants sit, was an innovation
of western medieval Christianity. Pews were inherited by
Protestants from the Roman Catholic Church, and because of
their practicality, have spread to some Orthodox churches
located in the west.
The nave basic structure is 14th century but it was re-roofed
and thoroughly restored in 1863. Two windows were made to
replace an original single window on the south side beyond
the south door.
The arcading on the north side appears at
least to have been very thoroughly restored if not completely
renewed. Professor Pevsner calls the roof 'bleak', it certainly
is rather plain and clumsy. The most interesting features
in the vave are two pieces of furniture, the front and
the screen across the chancel arch.
However, in 1961 members of the RAF repainted the medieval
colouring, which undoubtedly helps to brighten the interior
of the church and improve the screen.
What more can be said of the Nave? The pews are 19th century,
again probably 1863 and have little merit either in looks of
comfort. It appears from a board in the porch that a grant
was made towards their cost providing that the seating was
free, so they ousted the private pew system where rents were
The pulpit, again probably of the same date, is over-large
and heavy looking. But all this is overcome by the inevitable
grace of the arcading, the piers and arches tilting the eye
away from mere furniture and forcing an awareness of peace
and snatches of beauty in a rumble village church.
Looking towards the west of the church, one sees what is generally
the largest part of the building: the nave.
Strangely enough, the word 'nave', which dates back to the
12th Century AD, comes from the Latin navis, meaning 'ship',
as the vaulted ceilings of this part of the church often reminded
people of the timbers used to build the hull of a ship.
The nave is where the congregation sits during a service.
To the north of the seating, separated
by a number of pillars, the north aisle runs most the length
of the church. Looking up towards the ceiling one sees a row
wooden roof support beams,
running the length of the building above the roof of the aisle.
On some church designs, still looking upwards, below the clerestory,
one often finds a row of highly ornate 'false' windows. These
into the roof spaces of the aisles, a space which is known
as the triforium. St Michael and all Angel's church does not
have this design feature.
Finally, towards the western end of the nave one will find
the font, a stone basin used
during baptisms. Within the font is a lead bowl inserted into
the stone support, and inscribed within the rim of the bowl
is 'SP 1688' probably the initials of a clergyman
Turning back towards the east, you may now be able to see
the full-length of the church. However, in some buildings,
the public nave is completely separated from the eastern end
of the church, where the priests direct services, by an ornate
Heading towards the east of the church, across the crossing
and through the screen, one enters the area of the church that
was, in times gone by, accessible exclusively to the clergy.
This is known as the choir.
As the name suggests, this is where the choir stands
during services. Many churches have ornately carved choir stalls,
one on each side of the church. The choir in an English cathedral
is divided into two sections: the cantoris half sits on the
side of the choir near the cantor (the priest who sings certain
sections of the service), while the decani sits on the same
side of the building as the dean of a cathedral. When singing
psalms, the two sides of the choir generally sing alternate
verses; and when eight-part harmonies are required, the cantoris
singers generally take the lower of the two parts in each of
the four voices (soprano, alto, tenor and bass).
Other features of this area of the building are the pulpit,
generally on the north side of the building. Continuing eastwards,
one sees the altar rail, which divides the choir from the sanctuary.
The altar rail is generally
where communions are held, the congregation kneeling before
the rail to receive communion.
Finally, we come to the altar itself and the apse beyond.
The altar may be a simple, wooden structure or an ornate, canopied
and decorated table. It represents the table used by Christ
during the Last Supper, and is used during the consecration
of the bread and wine during communion services and as the
centre for all worship in the church.
A pulpit (from Latin pulpitum "scaffold", "platform", "stage")
is a small elevated platform where a member of the clergy stands
in order to read the Gospel lesson and deliver a sermon.
In many mainline Christian churches, there are two speaker’s
stands in the front of the church. Typically, the one on the
left (as viewed by the congregation) is called the pulpit.
Since the Gospel lesson is often read from the pulpit, the
pulpit side of the church is sometimes called the gospel side.
The other speaker's stand, usually on the right (as viewed
by the congregation), is known as the lectern. The word lectern
comes from the Latin word meaning "to read", because
the lectern primarily functions as a reading stand. It is typically
used by lay people to read the scripture lessons (except for
the Gospel lesson), to lead the congregation in prayer, and
to make announcements. Because the epistle lesson is usually
read from the lectern, the lectern side of the church is sometimes
called the epistle side.