Project Development

Harris Manchester College Chapel

IMG_2833 ce (low res)Dedicated in 1893, the College Chapel originally had plain glass windows, but this was gradually replaced by the current stained glass between 1895 and 1899.  They are all by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, making the chapel the only room in Oxford to be lit entirely by Morris/Burne-Jones glass.  So complete is this décor that even the organ pipes were painted by Morris & Co..

The orientation of the chapel is at odds with tradition: it is normal for the chancel and communion table to be situated at the east end of a chapel or church, but HMC Chapel was built with these at the west end.  For simplicity, I will refer to the actual compass bearings in this post.  My initial visit coincided with extensive cleaning work to the exterior of the roadside college buildings.  As a result, the east end window was under protective wraps.  This will be something for another visit.

12 impressDCP_5735 ce lrive pre-Raphaelite windows illuminate the chapel with each being composed of multiple lights.  The west window, installed in 1895, was the first to be designed and is far to complex to handle as a single image.  On this initial visit, I selected a small percentage of the window – just two representative lights:

At the top is a beautiful rose consisting of a circle depicting the Nativity of Jesus (BJ 285), surrounded by six angles: an obvious choice for photographing, not least because it contains no support bars, making post-production more straightforward.
HMC - Rose - Final (low res)

Central to the west window is a light depicting Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd (BJ 399), in crimson, bearing a lamb.
HMC - Jesus - Final (low res)

Additionally, I photographed the second window, installed in 1896, depicting Generosity (BJ 398), in the person of St. Martin, dividing his cloak to shear with a beggar; and Courage (BJ 397), portrayed as a soldier, St. George, with shield and spear.

The complexity of design within St. Martin’s patterned cloak and armour was such that I failed to be able to remove all of the support bars – while I was able to edit out the 4th bar down and significant parts of the 1st and 3rd bars, 20+ hours of effort produced unsatisfactory results for the parts remaining, so the final image depicts the light complete with bars.

It is entirely coincidental that each of the lights photographed were designed by Burne-Jones.  On a subsequent visit, I must endeavour to capture one by Morris.

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