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A New Aumbry Marks The Completion of The Restoration of The Lady Chapel and Shrine Area of The Cathedral (posted 26 March 2014)

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A New Aumbry Door marks the completion of the restoration of the Lady Chapel and Shrine area of the Cathedral

Aumbry Door Close Up
Aumbry Door Close Up

The dedication of a new aumbry, at the end of 2013, now marks the completion of the restoration of the Lady Chapel and Shrine area of the Cathedral. An aumbry is a cabinet in the wall of a Christian church or in the sacristy which is used to store the sacrament. 

Chichester Cathedral is well known for its works of modern art and the commissioning of this new piece is a eye-catching addition to its collection.  Colin Kerr, Surveyor of the Fabric, explains how its striking design has been carefully thought through in relation to other features of the Chapel:
 
The aumbry is set into the eastern part of a double piscina which is recessed into the south wall of the chapel. The masonry to its back is mediaeval whereas the carved arch over it is Victorian, part of the 1871 restoration of the chapel. That restoration marked the reclamation of the chapel to liturgical use, after having been fitted out and used as a library from the eighteenth century. The mensa of the altar is mediaeval; a massive slab of Sussex marble. The altar, lectern and glass in the chapel date from the Victorian restoration, carried through by Slater and Carpenter.
 
The Victorian restoration of the Lady Chapel was to a careful programme, which is a summary of the Christian story, set forward in traditional Christian symbolism. The window stained glass depicts the great events in Jesus’s life which also include his mother Mary, with the crucifixion in the centre of the main east window, where Jesus is shown on the cross with Mary standing at its side. Below the window is the altar, the primary symbol of Christ in a church and the lectern is fashioned as a pelican, a ‘type’ of Christ (the pelican was thought to feed its young on its own blood). The reredos above the altar depicts the risen Christ appearing to his disciples. 
 
In the reredos Christ is depicted against a gilded background, clothed in a dark blue robe and canopied by trees. The new aumbry makes reference to the iconography of the reredos and the lectern. The body of the aumbry is finished dark blue referring to Christ’s robe and is set about with gilt wing-like forms which refer to the lectern’s flurry of pelican wings. The bowl of the piscina was originally designed to project forward and that line is followed by the front of the new aumbry. By so doing the form relates to the early feature and the aumbry, the place of reservation, can be glimpsed from the entrance gate of the chapel.
 
At lectern and altar the risen Christ can be known in word and sacrament. The new aumbry is a place of honour where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved for communion of the sick and as a focus for prayer.
 
“I am with you always”   Matthew 28 verse 20
 
The aumbry was made in cast aluminium by the sculptor Jonathan Clarke and designed by him in conjunction with the Surveyor of the Fabric.
 
 
 

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