Project Development

Worcester College Chapel – Planning Visit

Perhaps stretching the truth a little: today I was singing evensong at Worcester College with the school choir, which cancelled out much of my half day, precluding my ability to work creatively on my project.  However, having sung here several times before, and already knowing the Chaplain, it did afford me the chance for some planning and a verbal request to photograph the windows.

Sadly, being an evensong in the winter months, it was dark by the time of my arrival in chapel, so my iPhone battled to drag any suggestion of light from the windows.  However, all is not lost…

Worcester_College_Chapel,_Oxford,_UK_-_Diliff (low res)

David Iliff (2015) Worcester College Chapel

The lavish appearance of the current chapel is thanks extensive renovation and redecoration work by William Burge, that started in 1863.  Its stained glass windows were to have been designed by John Everett Millais, but Burges rejected his designs and entrusted the work to Henry Holiday.

Surely that has to be a story in itself!  The fact that Burges rejected the designs himself would suggest, sadly, that they did not even get as far as the College, who would likely have archived them.  My penchant for Holiday’s work is no secret, but I am fascinated to know what might have been had Millais’ work been used.

Millais was no fool where Pre-Raphaelite art is concerned, perhaps best known for his oil-painting on canvas Ophelia, he became friendly with William Holman Hunt, whose famous work The Light of the World (painted at the same time as Ophelia), hangs in the Side Chapel of Keble College, Oxford.

N01506_10 (Ophelia) (low res)

John Everett Millais (1851-2) Ophelia ©Tate, London 2014

A moderate level of research reveals surprisingly sparse reference to Millais’ stained glass work, besides another oil painting Mariana, which features the stained glass of Merton College Chapel, Oxford.

T07553_10 Mariana (low res)

John Everett Millais (1851) Mariana ©Tate, London 1999

Stories within stories.  Definitely worth of further investigation, but not right now at the expense of my current research.

The chapel is unusually wide, which might afford some good photography of the windows that adorn the north and south walls – despite their height.  As is increasingly the case, the east window will prove most straightforward to photograph, with an uninterrupted view along the nave.

Worcester_College_Chapel,_Oxford,_UK_-_Diliff 02 (low res)

David Iliff (2015) Worcester College Chapel (tight crop)

With the support bars being an integral part of every window, it may prove sensible to preclude any removal from this location… the idea of editing out eight horizontal and two vertical bars is horrific!

After the service, the Chaplain kindly granted me open access to photograph the chapel windows whenever suits me, so I suspect that this will be one of my first visits in the New Year.

Looking at the exquisite image by David Iliff makes me realise that I should be recording a quality locational shot on each visit.  While this is something that I have been doing, for the most part, it has been a little half-hearted thus far.

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