The Arundel Screen is built across the chancel arch at the Cathedral crossing, thus dividing the Cathedral between the Quire, where services were held, and the Nave which was used for the laity. It was originally made with stone from Caen, France in the fifteenth century.
The screen gets its name from Bishop John Arundel (1459-77) who was believed to have been responsible for its installation, although an earlier date has also been suggested.
Until the Reformation, the only opening in the screen would have been through a gate in the central arch, the two arches on either side being blocked and used for altars to saints.
The screen was dismantled in 1859 to remove the division between Quire and Nave, thus opening the Cathedral up for worship in the nave. Unfortunately, this revealed cracks in the crossing piers leading to the subsequent fall of the spire in 1861. In the meantime, the screen had been saved and it was re-erected in the Bell Tower in the early 20th century.
Some hundred years after the removal of the screen, it was decided to replace it in its original position. The three arches were opened up to create a view through to the high altar. The screen was dedicated in 1961.
Dismantling of the Arundel Screen
In 1861, after the screen was taken down, the solid walls blocking the arches were removed. The Dean’s and Precentor’s stalls, which had been placed against the screen walls on the Quire side, were replaced by canopied Victorian stalls to the sides of the Quire. The space created by the dismantled stone screen was filled in 1890 by a wooden screen erected to the memory of Archdeacon Walker.
Designed by Bodley and Garner this screen, like its medieval forbear, consisted of three arches with a gated entrance and incorporated a Rood above. A memorial tablet to Archdeacon Walker was placed at the bottom of the south arch of the screen.