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The rood screen (also choir screen, chancel screen, or jube) is a common feature in late medieval church architecture. It is typically an ornate partition between the chancel and nave, of more or less open tracery constructed of wood, stone, or wrought iron. The rood screen would originally have been surmounted by a rood loft carrying the Great Rood, a sculptural representation of the Crucifixion. In English, Scots, and Welsh cathedral, monastic, and collegiate churches, there were commonly two transverse screens, with a rood screen or rood beam located one bay west of the pulpitum screen, but this double arrangement nowhere survives complete, and accordingly the preserved pulpitum in such churches is sometimes referred to as a rood screen. At Wells Cathedral the medieval arrangement was restored in the 20th century, with the medieval strainer arch supporting a rood, placed in front of the pulpitum and organ.
Rood screens can be found in churches in many parts of Europe: the German word for one is Lettner; the French jubé; the Italian tramezzo; and the Dutch doksaal. However, in Catholic countries they were generally removed during the Counter-reformation, when the retention of any visual barrier between the laity and the high altar was widely seen as inconsistent with the decrees of the Council of Trent. Accordingly, rood screens now survive in much greater numbers in Anglican and Lutheran churches; with the greatest number of survivals complete with screen and rood figures in Scandinavia. The iconostasis in Eastern Christian churches is a visually similar barrier, but is now generally considered to have a different origin, deriving from the ancient altar screen or templon.
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