a partition, enclosure, or parclose separating a portion of a room or of a church from the rest In the domestic halls of the Middle Ages a screen was almost invariably fixed across the lower end, so as to part off a small space, which became a lobby (with a gallery above it) within the main entrance doors, the approach to the body of the hall being by one or more doorways through the screen. These were of wood, with the lower part, to the height of a few feet, formed of close panelling, and the upper part of open-work. The passage behind the screen for the use of the servants was called "the Screens." In churches, screens were used in various situations, to enclose the choir, to separate subordinate chapels, to protect tombs, etc. That at the west end of the choir or chancel was often called the rood-screen, from the rood having been placed over it previous to the Reformation. Screens were formed either of wood or stone, and were enriched not only with mouldings and carvings, but also with most brilliant coloring and gilding. The screens at the west end and sides of the choir in cathedrals and large churches were usually close throughout their whole height, as they also occasionally were in other situations; but in general the lower part only, to the height of about four feet from the ground, was close, and the remainder was of open-work. The oldest piece of screen-work that has been noticed is at Compton Church, Surrey; it is of wood, of transition character from Norman to Early English, consisting of a series of small octagonal shafts with carved capitals supporting plain semicircular arches, and forms the front of an upper chapel over the eastern part of the channel.
Of the Early English style the existing examples are almost invariably of stone. Some are close walls, more or less ornamented with panelling, arcades, and other decorations; and some are close only at the bottom, and have the upper part formed of a series of open arches. Specimens of wooden screens of very early Decorated date remain at Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, and at Sparsholt, Berkshire, and in the north aisle of the choir of Chester Cathedral: these have the lower part of plain boarding, and the upper of small feathered arches supported on circular banded shafts. Stone screens of this date are variously, and often very highly, enriched. Some have the upper part of open-work, similar to those of wood; and others are entirely close, and are enriched with arcades, panels, niches, pinnacles, diapering, and other decorations characteristic of the style: specimens remain at Lincoln and several other cathedrals and large churches. Perpendicular screens exist in great variety in very many churches, both of wood and stone. Some of them are profusely ornamented with panelings, niches, statues, pinnacles, tabernacle-work, carvings, and other enrichments. The lower part usually consists of close panels, and the upper part of open-work divided by mullions supporting tracer, but sometimes the whole is close, with the same general arrangement of panelling. The illustration given from Fyfield Church, Berkshire, is an example of a parclose.