Three-decker Pulpit - Old Kirk Braddan (Church of St. Brendan) - Braddan, Isle of Man
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Mike_bjm
N 54° 09.659 W 004° 30.416
30U E 401606 N 6002481
Quick Description: The wooden three-decker pulpit at Old Kirk Braddan (Church of St. Brendan) at Braddan Bridge in Braddan.
Location: Isle of Man
Date Posted: 7/12/2021 9:33:27 AM
Waymark Code: WM14HQZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member pmaupin
Views: 3

Long Description:
The wooden three-decker pulpit at Old Kirk Braddan (Church of St. Brendan) at Braddan Bridge in Braddan dominates the nave of this almost puritanical Georgian auditory church which was not touched by the Victorians as so many others were on the Island.
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The three-decker pulpit was designed so that the lower box was for the Parish Clerk, the intermediate box for a curate or the vicar when reading or praying, and the upper level for preaching.

Above the pulpit is an appropriately designed 'sounding board'.

'Sounding Board'
A sounding board, also known as a tester and abat-voix is a structure placed above and sometimes also behind a pulpit or other speaking platforms that helps to project the sound of the speaker. It is usually made of wood. The structure may be specially shaped to assist the projection, for example, being formed as a parabolic reflector. In the typical setting of a church building, the sounding board may be ornately carved or constructed.[1] The term abat-voix, from the French word for the same thing (abattre (“to beat down”) + voix (“voice”)), is also used in English.
Sounding board may also be used figuratively to describe a person who listens to a speech or proposal in order that the speaker may rehearse or explore the proposition more fully.[2] The term is also used inter-personally to describe one person listening to another, and especially to their ideas. When a person listens and responds with comments, they provide a perspective that otherwise would not be available through introspection or thought alone.

Sourc: (visit link)

Here at Old Kirk Braddan this style of pulpit was necessitated by the installation of the box pews which through their height required the pulpit to be even higher.

It is believed that the box pews have probably graced the church from its completion as it is known that the nearby church in St. Mark's, which was completed in 1772, had box pews and a triple decker pulpit.

It was after the reformation that English and Manx Church saw the introduction of Morning and Evening Prayers which led to a number of changes in the interior arrangement of churches. ‘Thus, where there was already a pre-Reformation pulpit for preaching a homily, the provision of two more desks accommodating the clergyman or provided for reading of the lessons, and the lowest desk for the parish clerk, who led the responses of the congregation.’

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‘At first alterations were restricted to providing a wooden communion table and rails round it at which communicants could kneel instead of a stone alter, installing a pulpit from which sermons could be preached, and replacing figurative wall paints with whitewash and biblical texts. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, churches were modernised not only to accommodate changes to the forms of worship (the liturgy) but to respond to contemporary standards of taste and comfort.’

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It probably fair to say that The Reformation resulted in less emphasis on the altar and more on preaching and reading, with the result that sermons became the rival of the sacraments, and the pulpit became the most conspicuous piece of furniture in church.

Churches which conformed to this new style may be described as ‘auditory churches.
‘Auditory Churches’
‘Before the reformation, the interiors of churches were arranged to suit Roman liturgical practice ; the congregation did not need to hear the priest intoning 'the murmur of the mass', which was anyway in Latin. They were dark, the light reduced by small windows. Probably of stained glass, and the chancel where the priest officiated was cut off from the people in the nave by a wooden rood screen (there is a fragment of what may be one at Malew Church).

After the reformation, the Protestation doctrine of the Church of England meant that the people needed to be able to hear the parson preaching and reading the service (which in the country was often in Manx well into the nineteenth century. In consequence they were arranged as 'auditory' (or hearing) churches, with everyone facing the parson in his (usually combined) desk and pulpit, a good example of which survives at Old Kirk Braddan. Seats at the east end of the church, near the altar, faced not it, but the pulpit. Communion services (which did use the altar) took place only four times a year.

If more space were needed, it made more sense to build a win at right angles to the existing building in an L or T shape, with the seats, facing the parson at the centre, than to extend at one end where it would be more difficult to hear or see. On the same principle, most churches ended up with galleries, again bringing people as close as possible to the parson. Seating, both in the galleries and at ground level, could be raked like in a theatre. In a prominent place were the Royal Arms, symbolising the position of the Church of England as the established church subordinate to Crown and Parliament.

These auditory churches were full of light, with plain glass in the windows. Walls were whitewashed and the pews were grained to look like oak, or sometimes painted brown. There are a number of good Georgian church interiors in the Island, precious survivals of so many later destroyed by the Victorians. What is important is not so much any one feature but the whole ensemble, filling every part of the building with box pews, each with its own door. By law, everyone was supposed to go to church, and so provision had to be made for them (whether they did in fact go or not). In the parish churches pews were allocated to each farm, and in the town they could be sold or rented to provide an income. Most at least of the upper and middle classes very much wanted their own pew, as to sit with the poor in sits at the back would seem to them to invert the natural order of things.

Old Kirk Braddan, the Island's only untouched Georgian Church, although one with much older roots. In the churchyard note the classically inspired monument in the form of a pedestal crowned with a draped urn, a symbol of mourning.

The only part of Old Kirk Braddan where the original interior has been compromised is here, where a display has been made of the Celtic and Norse crosses found in the parish. The old churchyard at Braddan, with a variety of differently shaped headstones.’

Source: ‘Churches of Mann’, by Jonathan Kewley (ISBN: 978-1-899602-83-7)
Approximate age of artefact (Year): 1773

Times available for viewing: During daylight hours

Entrance fee (if applicable), local currency: 0

Relevant website: Not listed

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