‘The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,’ wrote T. S. Eliot in ‘The Rock.’ As the eagle was the bird supposed to fly closest to heaven, so it was appropriate for an eagle to support Holy Scripture. Like the one at Cropredy (1: Oxon), around 50 brass-eagle lecterns survive that were made in the century before the Reformation, possibly in the Low Countries. They would have been placed in the chancel adjacent to the High Altar, for reading the Gospel at Mass. Some bear dates, like the one of 1518 at St Mary the Virgin, Wiggenhall (2: Norfolk).
A few earlier lecterns survive, a couple from c.1200, near neighbours in Worcestershire, though not in original condition. The marble example, showing a bishop blessing, at Norton (3:Worcs)was found in the churchyard of the former Evesham Abbey; a similar one nearby at Crowle (4: Worcs) is made of limestone.