Our Lady of Walsingham Rood Screen
Houston, Texas

Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church wished to replace an existing beam that obstructed the view of windows in the apse beyond. The new rood screen projects forward from the adjacent piers, extending the chancel into the nave. This project honors the church’s English patrimony with a rood screen, a typically Anglican element, that at once sets apart the chancel - to emphasize the sacredness of the Eucharist while visually drawing in the congregation - to focus the assembled minds and hearts on the altar. This is where one kneels to take communion, whether for the thousandth time or the first.

The robust mahogany screen is lightened by tracery in hand-carved quatrefoils and trefoils and is dematerialized by gilding. The octagonal colonnettes are slender but sturdy, terminating in carved finials and weaving with arches that spring from them. The colonnettes land lightly on the floor, passing through the communion rail, which resumes the rhythm of the screen above - a rhythm set by existing kneeling cushions, created by the parish needlework guild when the church was originally consecrated. The rood screen is strong but delicate, a well-suited addition to a Houston church honoring the mother of Christ.

Befitting a liturgical element with a rich heritage, and with forms and details referencing a range of English precedents, from Norman interlacing arches and foliated Gothic screens to Compers’ church of St. Cyprian’s and Cram’s Calvary Episcopal, this screen upholds its place in the living tradition of the English church.


2018 Faith and Form Award

2018 ​Houston AIA Award

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