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Oundle School Memorial Chapel, Oundle

Description: Oundle School Memorial Chapel

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 7 June 1974
English Heritage Building ID: 231731

OS Grid Reference: TL0383388338
OS Grid Coordinates: 503833, 288338
Latitude/Longitude: 52.4831, -0.4724

Location: 10 Milton Road, Oundle, Northamptonshire PE8 4AB

Locality: Oundle
Local Authority: East Northamptonshire District Council
County: Northamptonshire
Country: England
Postcode: PE8 4AB

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Explore more of the area around Oundle, Northamptonshire at Explore Britain.

Listing Text

835/1/133 MILTON ROAD
07-JUN-74 (North side)

1922-3 by A C Blomfield.

MATERIALS: Coursed limestone ashlar. Clay tile roofs (lead covering on the flat roofs, e.g. porch and ambulatory).

PLAN: Nave, N and S aisles, W porch, SW stair turret, chancel with three-sided apse and ambulatory, N vestries etc, S transept (off the chancel) with SW stair turret.

EXTERIOR: The chapel is built in a consistent 15th-century Perpendicular style throughout. The nave is of six bays, has a tall clerestory and is flanked by low, lean-to aisles. These parts, like most of the rest of the building, have embattled parapets (but plain to the W end of the nave). The clerestory is divided into bays by gabled buttresses between which are large three-light, panel tracery windows under four-centred heads. At the W end there is a large, five-light transomed window with panel tracery. Each aisle bay has a two-light square-headed window. The buttressing system spans the aisles and forms half arches internally. At the SW corner is a large, polygonal stair turret leading to the W organ gallery: the turret is lit by one-light windows and has a demi-octagonal roof covering. The W porch is low and has a flat roof. The E end of the chapel has a three-sided apse surrounded by an ambulatory which has flying buttresses from its corners to the corresponding angles of the chancel. The S transept has a polygonal bell-turret capped by a concave-sided spirelet.

INTERIOR: The walls are partly plastered and whitened and partly bare limestone. The nave has an arcade in which the four-centred arches die into responds and the piers have moulded wall-shafts that rise to short timber wall-posts that begin at the level of the springing of the clerestory windows. Between the arcade arch-heads and the clerestory windows there runs a foliage frieze. At the entrance to the chancel is a tall, two-centred chancel arch with a moulded head and demi-shafts in the responds. Over the nave is an impressive hammerbeam roof. In the aisles (as noted above) there are half-arches spanning each bay and which are the internal expression of the buttressing system. The E end terminates in a canted apse each bay of which is occupied by a three light window; below the windows the walls have blind cusped arcading. At the W end there is a gallery housing an organ.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The furnishings are simple with richness being reserved for a remarkable series of stained glass windows. Those round the apse are by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens and were installed in 1955-6. There are nine large single figures, which, for Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, are `not realistic, but recognizable, and in their entangled forms and deep colours emotionally potent without being too exacting. The nearest parallel is the German and Dutch Expressionism of the 1920s, but the style is undoubtedly quite independent.' The hanging behind the altar was also designed by Piper. There is also a charming series of windows representing the Seven Ages of Man by Hugh Easton and dating from 1949. Further glass was commissioned from Mark Angus of Bath for the aisles, W end of the nave and W porch and was installed in 2002-5: this illustrates saints, angels and Old and New Testament themes. The chapel houses two organs, a classical instrument built in 1984 by Frobenius of Denmark and which has three manuals and pedals, thirty-five speaking stops and mechanical action. It is situated in the W gallery. A further instrument installed by Copeman Hart in 2000 is situated at the E end of the chapel.

HISTORY: The chapel is set in a large lawned area and among the buildings of Oundle School, founded as a grammar school in 1556. The chapel was built after the First World War as a memorial to the fallen. It is among the last generation of archaeologically correct Gothic Revival churches and chapels in the country and is an expensive building which carefully recaptures the spirit and detail of such a building from the 15th century. The architect was Arthur Conran Blomfield (1863-1935) who had been employed at the school since at least 1907-8 when he was responsible for the Great Hall and Library. He remained the school's architect until his death and his last work was a N extension to the Art School in 1934-5. A C Blomfield was one of two architect sons of Sir Arthur Blomfield, a well-known Victorian architect who undertook a great deal of church work. Arthur senior had designed the Lower Chapel at Eton College of 1889-91, also in a Perpendicular style. The chapel is a fine building architecturally but it is also of much significance for its post-Second World War glass. The chancel windows by Piper and Reyntiens are their first major stained glass commission and are of great importance in the history of the medium in post-War Britain.

Pevsner, N., The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire (1973), 364-5. (viewed at June 2009).

Oundle School Chapel, Oundle, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* The chapel is a notable example of the late Gothic Revival, faithfully reproducing Perpendicular themes.
* It is a notable example of a war memorial chapel, embodying attitudes to piety and loss in the wake of the First World War.
* The post-war stained glass by Piper and Reyntiens is of especial note.
* The chapel belongs to the notable school ensemble and possesses group value.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

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