Chapel of St. Edmund – Planning visit
St. Edmund Hall was somewhat of an enigma: why does it have its own chapel when its library is housed in a former church, listed in the Domesday Book? Request to photograph the chapel was directed, as always, at the chaplain Revd Will Donaldson, who was prompt in accepting my request, but also directed my request to photograph the library (St. Peter-in-the-East) to the new librarian.
With each of the chapels varying so greatly, the preliminary visits are so important, affording time to plan which windows might work best and allowing me to decide which lens or lenses are most appropriate for the eventual shoot. Additionally, it forms the starting point of important background research into the history of each chapel: something that will prove invaluable when I start work on the guide that will accompany the portfolio.
The supper at Emmaus (Ceri Richards, 1958) Chapel of St. Edmund
The Chapel of St. Edmund really was small. Built by Stephen Penton and consecrated in 1682, it is famous for the painting ‘The supper at Emmaus’ by Ceri Richards that hangs over the altar and is also well known for the stained-glass window on the east side that was constructed and designed by William Morris and Edward-Burne Jones.
A 3D tour of the chapel proved a useful starting point, but revealed little of the detail of the stained glass windows. In addition to an impressive East Window, the chapel boasts four pairs of lights, each depicting a saint. On visiting, it became apparent that some lights where unevenly lit as a result of shadows cast by nearby buildings and trees. Indeed, one pair of lights is only visible from the organ loft and it is hidden behind the organ – as such it is impossible to photograph in any meaningful way.
The diminutive size of the chapel is quite an issue as I may find that a 90mm lens will be too powerful for photographing the lights in the north and south walls, and anything smaller may result in increased distortion. As it is, the height of the windows will necessitate photography at an angle, leading to converging verticals that will lessen the image quality through post production digital correction. The East Windows seems the most sensible choice for photography as it affords the greatest distance, by using the full length of the nave. , but its relatively old age for a pre-Raphaelite window gives it a rather uncared-for appearance compared with those created in the late 1890’s and beyond.