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Former Oakley Hall School Memorial Chapel, Cirencester

Description: Former Oakley Hall School Memorial Chapel

Grade: II
Date Listed: 11 January 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1407024

OS Grid Reference: SP0236500911
OS Grid Coordinates: 402365, 200911
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7069, -1.9672

Locality: Cirencester
Local Authority: Cotswold District Council
County: Gloucestershire
Country: England
Postcode: GL7 1QS

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Listing Text


A memorial chapel in Perpendicular Gothic style, built 1919-20, by Leonard William Barnard, FRIBA (1870-1951), for Oakley Hall School.

Reason for Listing

The Chapel of St Michael and All Angels is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a war memorial, dedicated to the memory of the Old Boys of the former Oakley Hall School who fell in two World Wars, and to the former headmaster of the School
* Architectural interest: a competent Perpendicular treatment of a simple memorial chapel, well suited to its sombre purpose, by Leonard William Barnard FRIBA, a recognised architect
* Intactness: though the chapel's internal fittings, which were not fixed, have been removed, the building is otherwise unaltered since its completion


Oakley Hall was built circa 1890, for John Richard Brinsley Norton, Fifth Baron Grantley (1855-1943), and enlarged in 1903 by local architect Vincent Alexander Lawson (1861-1928), who had moved from Stroud to Cirencester in 1900 and built extensively in the town. The house was used as a residence until the First World War, when a preparatory school at Pelham House, Folkestone moved to Oakley Hall following the bombing of Pelham House. Prior to the school’s move, the headmaster, Mr Haskoll, had died, and a fund had been started to pay for a chapel in his memory, but the move took place before a building was constructed.

At the end of World War I, it was decided that a Memorial Chapel should be erected at Oakley Hall to commemorate the 48 old boys of the school who had fallen in the conflict, and as a memorial to Mr Haskoll, as had been intended. The chapel was designed by Leonard William Barnard, FRIBA (1870-1951), a Cheltenham architect who worked in the firm of Middleton, Prothero and Phillot, later Barnard, Prothero and Phillot, which became L W Barnard and Partners from circa 1920 onwards. Barnard worked, among other commissions, on churches in Gloucestershire and Wales, as well as commercial premises. The foundation stone of the Oakley Hall School memorial chapel was laid on 24 October 1919, and it was dedicated by the Archdeacon of Cheltenham to St Michael and All Angels on 25 June of the following year, at which point it was complete aside from the glazing of the windows and the carving of the names of the fallen, which were pencilled in on the dressed stones which had been incorporated into the internal walling for this purpose. The chapel was reportedly the first place of worship to have been begun and finished since the end of the war.

In 1923, C15 Flemish carved panels were given as a gift by a Mr James of Edgeworth, and incorporated into the reredos. After World War II, the names of the 44 old boys of the school were added to the carved names on the west wall. In 1928, the school was bought by Major C F C Letts, who was later succeeded as headmaster by his son, RFB Letts. The Letts family installed pews in the 1920s and 1930s, which were replaced in 1950 by pews brought from Major Letts’ old prep school, the Grange in Folkestone.

The school closed in 1994, and Oakley Hall was subsequently divided into apartments, with the grounds developed for housing. The chapel remained in the care of a trust until 2011; the Letts family removed the fittings which had been installed during their tenure, and the building was for sale at the time of inspection (December 2011).


A memorial chapel in Perpendicular Gothic style, built 1919-20, by Leonard William Barnard, FRIBA (1870-1951), for Oakley Hall School.

MATERIALS: the building is constructed from limestone under a Cotswold stone slate roof

PLAN: a single-cell rectangle, orientated east-west

EXTERIOR: the chapel is of four bays and a single storey, the squared and coursed limestone walls set on a chamfered plinth with a single offset. The main elevation to the south has four two-and three-light pointed-arched windows with Perpendicular tracery, diamond-panel leaded glazing, and hood moulds. The north and east elevations are blind, and the west end has a depressed-arched doorway with a deep chamfer and stops, and a multi-paned over-door light, housing double doors. Above the doorway is a window similar to those in the south elevation. The gable ends have coped verges and moulded kneelers, and the long elevations have eaves detailing. The foundation stone, inscribed simply '1919', is situated at the south-west corner, just above the plinth.

INTERIOR: the interior is a single, full-height space, with red terracotta tiled flooring. There is square panelling to dado height to the west wall, and the framework of the former reredos to the east wall. The bay structure of the exposed stone walls is articulated by moulded, dressed-stone attached piers which extend upwards to form transverse arches carrying the roof structure, above which is a timber ceiling.

A dressed-stone band runs around the walls, carved with the names of the 92 old boys of Oakley Hall School who fell in two World Wars. The lettering is picked out in black paint. The west end carries the inscription “SO THEY PASSED OVER AND ALL THE / TRUMPETS SOUNDED FOR THEM ON THE OTHER SIDE” to either side of the doorway. A further band of dressed stone runs around the building at eaves height. There are various other carved and inscribed stone memorials to staff of Oakley Hall School affixed to the internal walls of the chapel.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.