Book Cover

The Angel Roofs of East Anglia

Michael Rimmer

By the late fourteenth century the carpenters of mediaeval England had mastered the complex mechanics needed to span vast spaces with interlocking timber arches thus freeing the space below of supporting columns. Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament was the crowning glory, 68 feet wide and 240 feet long. But remarkably almost hidden in the darkness of the roof 92 feet high, are angels carved into the beams. No one really knows why. But the tradition of Angel roofs had begun and through the fifteenth century East Anglia was the place where it blossomed. Three quarters of surviving angel roofs are in the churches of East Anglia and this book combines details of their history and construction with glorious photographs of these masterpieces of sculpture and engineering. Some of the angels are carved with staggering and beautiful detail, full of local religious symbolism and sometimes with the arms of wealthy patrons who funded the work. We are fortunate that, high in the roofs, so many escaped the destruction of the reformation. So when visiting churches don’t forget to look up and spot these wonders of mediaeval craftsmanship.