4 – The Tudor Screen.
The Screen here, which is actually a section of panelling, is dated 1522 – this year we are celebrating its 500th birthday. It relates to one of our most notorious kings, Henry VIII.
It commemorates his marriage to his Spanish first wife, Catherine of Aragon, in 1509 and may have been made at any time between then and the death of the Bishop of London at the time, Richard FitzJames in 1522. He was a friend of Catherine of Aragon. He had officiated at her first marriage to Henry’s older brother Prince Arthur. This panelling was perhaps made for a room in Fulham Palace in which the bishop was going to entertain the King and Queen for dinner.
Please play the following audio clip to learn more about the screen.
After Henry and Catherine’s divorce in 1533 and the Reformation which followed (when England became Protestant) the screen would have been an embarrassment to the bishops so that’s probably why the panelling was dismantled and eventually made its way down here, through a family connected with the Church who eventually gave it to the vicar. We don’t know exactly when it got here but a drawing in 1781 shows it in the old vicarage next door to the church; eventually it was moved into the Church itself. There is a handout next to the screen which will tell you much more.
Please see this pdf file for additional research of the Steyning Screen. (undertaken on behalf of the Steyning Museum).
Please also see this presentation given by Alexis Haslam, Fulham Palace Community Archaeologist, on 4th October 2022 at the Steyning Parish Church. Alexis describes the various events, including some interesting scandals, around the time of the screen’s creation and explains how in the end the screen got connected with Steyning. Reproduced with the kind permission of Alexis Haslam given on 10 October 2022.
Please go back to the centre of the nave facing the Altar this time (see 5 on Plan) and then press Next.