Like a matchbox
The crossing is difficult to understand at first glance. The round (and outer) arches are Saxon and supported the now demolished Saxon tower. The pointed (and inner) arches support the present tower, which is built within the Saxon tower, like a matchbox fitting into its case. To imagine this area, as it was when it was first built, it is necessary to remove the pointed arches and the corner piers they stand upon.
In Saxon times, the crossing under the central tower was the climax of the building, but later, after Stow became a parish church, the arrangements were changed, and this area became merely the eastern end of the nave.
The floor was then at nave level, and on either side there were fifteenth century screens, enclosing the transepts as chapels. In the chancel arch was the rood screen, and the seats for the clergy had been moved eastward into the new Norman choir.
After the reformation the crossing was again the most important part of the church. As in Saxon times, most of the services took place here. The nave was used only for baptisms, and the chancel only for the comparatively infrequent celebrations of Holy Communion.
In the crossing, spilling out a little into the transepts and nave, were the medieval pews with their backs made higher by the addition of panelling. The Jacobean pulpit, with a canopy over it, was against the northeast pier, and the reading desk, unusually for the period, was diagonally opposite by the southwest pier.
Overhead, quite low down, was the roof of the ringing gallery, traces of which can be seen halfway up the piers. The western arch was partially blocked by the Singing Gallery for the choir, which occupied the extreme east end of the nave. As the rather decrepit remains of the screens still existed, this part of the church was very cluttered and cozy. All this was swept away at the restoration by Pearson and Atkinson, and for the first time the church was arranged as a single room.
Brindley and Foster of Sheffield built the organ in 1873.
The Brass Lectern
The brass lectern, a memorial to the Revd. George Atkinson, (who died just before he had finished the restoration of the church) was made by Hardman of Birmingham.