Visitor Guide 18: Font
The Font serves the purpose of holding the water used in baptism, or christening. Baptism is considered the entry into Christian life which is why the font is near the west door of the Church.
Like the Abbey itself, the Font is an assembly of parts from different eras. The ancient bowl is a great drum of dressed stone which may have Roman origins and could have been used in Wilfrid’s original church. The bowl stands on a pedestal of alternating attached colonnettes and panels of ‘dog-tooth’ decoration which is typical of Early English Gothic carving around 1200. There is an 18th century cover and a tall canopy made in 1916 which includes many medieval fragments.
The Font Canopy; a ‘cruel product of the Devil’s cruel war’, is a symbol of one of Europe’s biggest refugee crises. It was created by Belgian craftsman Joseph Ceulemans who fled to Britain with his family during the First World War. The elaborate and intricately designed canopy is in the Gothic style and was constructed using wood carved by Ceulemans himself, as well as old woodwork found in the Abbey which is evident from the different shades of the wood used for the canopy.