Carrickfergus, N Ireland
The Chancel of the original Church was very much shorter than the present one. The present long finely designed one was built by Robert le Mercer in 1305-6. Of the seven windows in the Chancel only one is an original and that was restored by the late Edwin Darley Hill. Its date can be fixed by an inspection of the tracery. (North side of the Sanctuary).
As we enter the Chancel we notice on the right a very low, narrow window beside the Prayer Desk. This is the "Leper Window." Carrickfergus did have a leper hospital on the east suburb of the town dedicated to Saint Bridget. This was an ancient monastic foundation. Some hold that the lepers used this narrow window in order to see the services celebrated in the Church and receive the Sacrament, being forbidden to enter the Church. The hospital, of course, would probably have had its own chapel and the lepers could have joined in the services there. The tradition, however, survives, and reminds us of the days when Carrickfergus had its leper hospital and "Spittal Parks." This window has also been called a "low side window." At the elevation of the host the sacring bell may have been rung through it. It appears to be an insertion at a later date than the Chancel.
The window beside the "leper window" depicts the Transfiguration of Our Lord. With Him we see Moses (the lawgiver) and Elijah (the Prophet) on the mountain with Peter, James and John. This window is in memory of John Boyd Gilmore who died in 1859.
The ancient "Priests Door"' can still be seen in this wall. It is now built up but still speaks to us of those far off days when the worshippers entered by it. The monks would have used this door as they came for their daily services.
The chamber opposite the Priests Door has been the site of the organ since 1876. The old Connahar organ in use from this date was destroyed by an overflow of water in the year 1974. A complete new organ was installed by Messrs. Charles R. Smethurst, Mancester, in the year 1975.
On the organ side and a little beyond it we come to the Founder's Tomb. The tombstone with the Bishop's Crozier carved on it was found beside the tomb in the wall in 1872, when the door leading to the Vestries was enlarged. Here is probably interred a Bishop of whose name we can find no trace. In mediaeval times the Founder's Tomb would have been used to represent our Lord's sepulchre on Good Friday. Persons would have been employed to watch the tomb from Good Friday until Easter Day. On Easter Day it would have been decorated to remind the Christian of the resurrection of Christ. The tomb was empty. "He is risen."
On the opposite side of the Chancel we see the one remaining Anglo-Norman Cross slab in Carrickfergus. These slabs would originally have lain on top of a grave, but they must all have long since been broken and destroyed. The present one standing against the wall was discovered in three pieces in the wall nearby and is here beautifully preserved for posterity.