rood (rōd) [key], crucifix mounted above the entrance to the chancel and flanked by large figures of the Virgin and St. John, an almost invariable feature in the 14th- and 15th-century European church. This group, usually carved in wood and painted and gilded, was in early examples supported upon a beam as wide as the chancel arch. The richly ornamental screen of wood or stone closing the chancel from the nave became the support for the cross and figures and was termed rood screen. This screen often supported an overhead platform called a rood loft reached by a small stairway from the nave. The rood loft sometimes contained an organ or was used as a singing gallery. In England during the Reformation, many roods with their screens were destroyed; they are not part of the fittings of an Anglican church.
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