Project Development

Mansfield & The Queen’s College chapels revisited

The original visit to Mansfield College was on a clear, bright September day last year (HERE) which preculded the chance for good quality photography.  Rearranging the visit has not been straightforward and it is more than a little ironic that today is also a clear, bright day!

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Founded in Birmingham in 1838 as a college for Nonconformist students, and known as Spring Hill College, it moved to Oxford in 1886 and was renamed Mansfield College.  The buildings were designed by Basil Champneys and formally opened in 1889.  Mansfield gained full college status in 1995.

College Chapel is unconsecrated and aligned north-south, with the north end being the Liturgical East.  The decoration of the chapel is meant throughout to suggest the one idea of the Church of God as founded upon Christ, and witnessing in various forms to worship of God in Him.  Today the chapel serves many functions, including dining hall and function room.  However, there are weekly chapel services as well as routine recitals.

With the natural lighting being far from ideal, the liturgical east end (facing north!) which houses four windows, seemed quite a viable choice as the light was not too harsh, nor too were the shadows.  Having decided not to photograph the entire window, I spent some time studying the numerous possible lights that compose the gift of Lord Winterstoke of Blagdon.  Finally I settled upon photographing the two lancets that make up the upper half of the central window, depicting St Paul and St John.

UPDATE: 28 August, 2019

Now completed, the stained glass window edit is composed of 23 separate photographs, exposure blended by hand.  EXIF data:

  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM
  • 360mm | ISO-50 | f/8.0
  • Exposure range: 1/125sec – 1.3sec

The high angle of the photograph resulted in the two lights being partially clipped by the crenulated stonework.  his necessitated considerable reconstruction, but the results were worth the effort:

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Dominic Price (2019) Before and after editing the base of the two lights

One of the more demanding exercises was to translate the Greek text.  hile retrospectively a rather obvious choice of text for St John, it did take a significant number of hours to decipher.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος | In the beginning was the Word
John 1:1

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Dominic Price (2019) St Paul and St John [Joseph Bell, 1889 – Mansfield College Chapel

Despite the natural lighting appearing unfavourable, it seemed sensible to revisit The Queen’s College chapel – scaffolding is beginning to be erected; Eton College Choir are using the facilities, so I was only allowed in during their lunch break.  I spent a somewhat therapeutic hour-long period within the chapel, and throughout there was only bright sunlight, casting harsh shadows from the protective wire netting.  Consequently, no photographs were taken.

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