Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture


Generically speaking a gallery is a platform, raised above the church floor. Galleries were often located at the west end of the church, over the west door, and used to house musicians or singers performing during church services. For this reason they are sometimes called minstrel's galleries or musician's galleries. Uncommon during the medieval period, galleries came into use in the late 17th century. During Cromwell's Commmonwealth the playing of organs or similar instruments in churces was banned, and many organs were destroyed.

When singing and music was reintroduced during the Restoration period under Charles II, there was a shortage of organs, so local musicians joined forces and played during services. Galleries were built for the use of these musicians, often using wood from dismantled rood lofts and screens. When these musicians played, the congregation would turn to face the gallery. Organ playing once more gained popularity in the 18th century and many minstrel galleries were simply used as extra seating.

Related: Rood   Organ  

Kedington, Suffolk

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This ransom was first paid during the reign of Aethelred the Unready to prevent Danish attack

18 March, 978

Murder of King Edward

The young King Edward, who had only been on the throne for 3 years, was murdered at Corfe Castle, Dorset, probably with the connivance of his step-mother. Edward, later canonized, was succeeded by his half-brother Ethelred, known to history by the unfortunate soubriquet, Ethelred the Unready

Her implication in the Catholic Babington Plot led to her execution

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