St Hilda’s College Chapel
This was the very first chapel I visited for this research project, back in May 2018. Named after the Anglo-Saxon Saint, Hilda of Whitby, St Hilda’s College was founded in 1893 as a hall for women; remaining an all-women’s college until 2008. When it first moved into to Cowley House, the billiard room on the top floor was fitted out as a Chapel. By 1969 this had been repurposed and a smaller College Chapel was developed within the Milham Ford building in Michaelmas Term 1969. This building was demolished in 2018 to make way for new developments and I was fortunate enough to gain access just days before that.
The chapel contained two windows each comprised of three stained glass lights. Sadly the nature of the installation was such that the view beyond was clearly visible despite the use of a very smaller aperture to reduce the depth of field. Each light was photographed independently then reassembled into the two complete windows.
I was very unhappy with the original edit of the six lights, because the design, while simple, was masked by the bright colours in the background. My most recent edit, while not a truly accurate representation of the stained glass, does give a better idea of the content without other distractions.
Changes to The Crucifixion window are the most dramatic of the two, but still remain pleasingly faithful to the original, allowing the observer to appreciate the design and artwork without too many detractions:The Temptation of Man window was less cluttered by the miscellany of modern life. However, it too benefitted from similar treatment: My research focusses unashamedly on the stained glass, not on the clutter that lies beyond. I will allow other contemporary photographers to portray the detractions from stained glass – it has always been my intention to reproduce the stained glass in isolation in order that it can be best appreciated. I do not like having to apply largescale alterations to these images and try to avoid more post production than is necessary, but in reality this is not much of a step beyond the removal of occasional protective wire or indeed the removal of tie bars.
St Hilda’s College intends there to be a new College Chapel located in the Boundary Building, once construction is complete. I am hoping to hear news of the design in due course.