None of today’s site visits follow on from planning visits. To that end, I will have to travel with a full and heavy kit, so it was my intention to minimise the need to travel between sites. Sadly access and availability worked against me, with me being granted access to St Anthony’s in the morning while access to the neighbouring St Hugh’s was not until the afternoon. To make matters worse, New College, in the centre of town was available only between the other two visits.
It was an easy and pleasant walk to St Antony’s College. Because the former chapel is now the College Library, access was only possible during library hours and despite it being the vacation, there may well be DPhil students conducting research within the library.
Founded in 1950, St Antony’s is one of the newest colleges of the University of Oxford. Its main buildings were designed by Charles Buckeridge, in 1868, for the Society of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The work was at the behest of Marian Rebecca Hughes, the first woman to take monastic vows within the Church of England since the reformation. Buckeridge’s original design for the convent was Trinitarian, based on the symbolism of the holy trinity, however the design was rejected and a more traditional approach was adopted.
Following Buckeridge’s untimely death, aged just 41, in 1873, the building of the chapel was left to John Loughborough Pearson who followed Buckeridge’s original design. The chapel was never consecrated, but opened in 1894 and today houses the college library. Originally it contained five stained glass windows within the apse, but three of these were in a poor state of repair and were removed to storage when the chapel underwent conversion of use.
Being a working college library, the former chapel was in wonderful condition and was lit brightly by artificial lighting. On this rather overcast day, the two remaining stained glass windows (one each on the south and north walls) were rather dark in appearance, so to ensure the best results, I photographed them both. Being very tall lancets, each window was captured in two batches of photographs.
New College – revisited
My first visit to New College for this project was way back in late September 2018 – an afternoon of brilliant sunshine (HERE) that precluded any sensible photography. By contrast, today was a vast improvement: the weather had improved a little by the time I arrived at New College: while still overcast, the cloud cover was now bright and almost perfect for my work. New College is the chapel I best know within the University, having sung there periodically for many years.
St Mary’s College of Winchester in Oxford, to give New College its full name, was founded in 1379 (by William of Wykeham, Lord Chancellor of England, and Bishop of Winchester). This was in conjunction with Winchester College (opened 1394), which was envisaged as a feeder to the Oxford college. The two institutions were both the work of master mason William Wynford and share the same coat of arms.
The college is one of the main choral foundations of the University of Oxford and boasts one of the leading choirs in the world with a catalogue of over one hundred albums. The chapel in which they sing is renowned for its grand interior, containing works by El Greco and Sir Jacob Epstein.
Stained glass throughout the college is in the process of being conserved by York Glaziers Trust, which has been associated with New College since the 1980s.
My intention was to photograph part of the West Window, necessitating access to the organ loft. While normally off limits, I was confident that the Head Porter would accommodate my request and sure enough he did. The section photographed comprised seven lights that I captured in four batches of photographs which will allow for significant sized printing, should it be required.
St Hugh’s College
On my route home I stopped off at St Hugh’s to photography their chapel. Located to the north of the city centre, St Hugh’s was founded in 1886 by the great-niece of poet William Wordsworth, as a women’s college. During its early years almost a quarter of the College’s student body consisted of daughters of clergymen. It began accepting its first male students in its centenary year in 1986. Originally accommodated in properties in Norham Road, Norham Gardens and Fyfield Road, St Hugh’s moved to the present site in 1913. The Main Building incorporates the chapel at its heart, above the main entrance topped by the iconic bell tower. The Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford on Ascension Day in 1916. The Chapel was renovated in 1980 and a new organ was installed.
The College is in the process of securing funding for its first stained glass window within the chapel. However, just outside the entrance is a beautiful example: a memorial to Winifred Francis Inman a former student who died tragically young. The final section of the Latin inscription on it reads ‘do not be afraid, just believe’.
It was my intention to include an image of the stained glass within my research. However, located within a very narrow corridor and backed by a wall to one side and an awkward skyline on the other side, made its photography almost impossible. I photographed six batches of photographs, hoping to be able to edit each batch and then manipulate the these into one corrected image. Ultimately, I felt that for a window that was not technically within a chapel, this was far too demanding a challenge for the limited amount of time available.