Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture

Easter Sepulchre

An arched recess used during annual Easter ceremonies. A crucifix and other sacred elements were placed in the sepulchre from Good Friday until Easter Day. The sepulchre was generally set into the north wall of the chancel. Such sepulchres often resemble canopied tombs, with elaborate carved frontals and highly decorative canopies. Easter Sepulchres are found only in England, and generally date from the Decorated Gothic period, roughly 13th and 14th centuries.

Easter Sepulchres are relatively rare in British churches, as most were destroyed during the Reformation. In some cases elaborate tombs are identified as possible sepulchres but such identification is impossible to verify, especially in cases where the carving is worn or partially destroyed, and we have to make an educated guess from the general style of construction.

Related: Chancel   Gothic  

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