Altar, Ambo and Tabernacle

The three pre-eminent items within any Sanctuary are the the Ambo (or pulpit), the Tabernacle containing the Holy Sacrament, and the Altar. From our early briefings, Monsignor Curry explained to us the religious and liturgical significance of each of these. Adrian Gilbert Scott had never provided Our Lady of Victories with an Ambo; the old brass Tabernacle (rescued from the Victorian church during the Blitz) was sitting on an out-dated wooden pedestal; and the Altar, which had been modified (and lowered) at various points, needed raising and improving. We took the view that these significant items, including a new Pedestal for the Tabernacle, should be made in stone as a symbol of permanence.
Initially we made very many scale models and drawings, followed by the construction of a full-size plywood Ambo and Pedestal, which were installed in the church to allow everyone to get a feel for the functionality and the look of the new designs. With the designs finalised, we visited the ancient stone quarries of Lincolnshire to find a supplier able to supply blocks of ‘Ancaster Hard White’ in the sizes needed. We met and discussed the work with several masons, before deciding on Stone Art in Gloucestershire - a team led by master-mason Sebastien David.

The Altar:
The existing Altar dates back to the 1970s and was to remain with only some minor alterations, its supports faced in stone to match the Ambo and Pedestal, and its ‘mensa’ (top slab) turned and raised so that the original carved inscription once again faced the congregation. Extra stone was added to raise it to its original height - the correct height for use by the Clergy.

The Ambo:
In our early sketches and models, we proposed a simple geometric form for the Ambo, supporting an ‘open book’ symbolising the Word of God. However, the designs evolved though out the process and the design was simplified to a more elegant and geometric form, carved from a single piece of Ancaster stone The idea of the open book remained, and due to its significance we decided that this should be made in a more precious material so we decided that this would be cast in solid brass, so it could stand out to the congregation and match the material used in the Tabernacle itself.

The Pedestal:
The Pedestal was also realized from a single piece of Ancastor stone, its design reflecting the Ambo. Its sloping faces, in line with the rays of light in the design of Reredos, project the eye up toward the Tabernacle. The recently completed Reredos by Stephen Foster depicts a large-scale Crucifixion which dominates the Sanctuary.