Traveling further afield
After much careful planning, I managed to arrange four visits to chapels in a similar area on the east side of Oxford for this afternoon. Additionally, I visited a college in the morning and finally managed to photograph The Queen’s College chapel in seemingly good lighting. It was a substantial amount of walking on a very hot day!
My arrival at Linacre College, on the north side of the city, though early in the morning, found the library very much in use and with no easy way to achieve a ‘standard’ East Window view. Linacre College was founded in 1962 and moved to its current site, at Cherwell Edge, in 1977, where it occupies a Queen Anne building, built in 1886. This was formerly a convent of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. At the turn of the nineteenth century, there was the perceived need for accommodation for Catholic women: the Society ran a large hostel ‘St Frideswide’s’ at Cherwell Edge since 1905. Soon after, they had a chapel and large residential block built by Basil Champneys.
Sadly, in the intervening years, the majority of the stained glass was lost, with nothing more than tracery lights remaining in the four south windows. Both the West and East windows are now entirely plain glass.
- Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM
- 234mm | ISO-50 | f/8.0
- Exposure range: 1/400sec – 1/60sec
The image is the result of the exposure blending by hand of 21 separate images.
The Queen’s College
On arrival at Queen’s , I was greeted like a long lost friend by the Porters and headed straight to the chapel. he lighting still less than ideal, but I decided it was worth re-photographing the windows. On inspection in the evening it was evident that the image quality was worse than on original visit, so opted to edit photographs from 19 August.
The Friary is a lengthy bus journey out to the east of the city, close to the digs I had as a student in the 1990’s. My last visit to the site was some ten years ago when it was still a Convent and I remember from then just how impressive was the chapel as well as its location within St John’s Home.
St John’s Home was founded in 1873 for people with lingering sickness or incurable diseases. In 1881, the community of All Saints Sisters of the Poor was invited to take charge of the hospital, and in 1893 they became entirely responsible for the work. In 2013 the Sisters decide to move out of the large convent building and chapel, and move into other buildings on the site. Their place was filled in July 2013 by the Conventual Franciscans (The Order of Friars Minor Conventual of Great Britain and Ireland), more routinely known in Britain as the Greyfriars.
The chapel and stained glass therein was designed by Sir Ninian Comper and dedicated to St John the Divine and All Saints on 2 October, 1907, although the East Window was not completed until 1911.
Having been given a mini tour of the site by Father Giles, I was left to my own devices within the chapel. A conveniently located screen allowed me access to the perfect height for photographing the windows. The light was more favourable at the East end – and (unsurprisingly) the window was that bit more impressive, so I opted to photograph it in its entirety.
As I was about to depart, Father Giles pointed out that there were another two chapels within the site: The new chapel for the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, which was sadly unavailable for photography and Bethlehem Chapel:
Tucked up against the perimeter wall of St John’s Home grounds lies Bethlehem Chapel, a semi-circular place of prayer and quiet contemplation. Built in 1980, the chapel is shared by the communities of the Greyfriars, and the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, for individual or group prayer. In the winter months individuals of all faiths are invited by Cowley St John to a weekly Stillness and Silence practise.
Warneford Hospital Chapel
While still in the east of the city, the Warneford Hospital site is at the top of Headington Hill, some distance from The Friary and sadly the direct route was going to hafve to be walked. I was being granted access by Rev Sally Horner who was kindly traveling to the site from some 40+ minutes away. I felt somewhat guilty taking up her time so endeavoured to race through the work.
Warneford Hospital (formerly Oxford Lunatic Asylum) was originally designed to recreate the atmosphere of a gentleman’s country house. An 1847 directory states: On the summit of Headington Hill is the Warneford Lunatic Asylum, opened in 1826, for the accommodation of lunatics selected from the higher classes of society.
Pleasingly, time has been sympathetic and change has been dynamic. Warneford Hospital continues to support the treatment of people (and their families) who are experiencing mental health difficulties.
The Chapel at the Warneford, is in Victorian Gothic Early English style and was begun in 1841 by Thomas Greenshields of Oxford, but not completed until 1852 by J. M. Derick. It is used routinely by staff and patients for communion services, recitals and other events, supported by a capable Chaplaincy Team.
All of the windows are quite stunning – this is definitely a site I would like to revisit in order to photograph more of the glass.
Once again I was let down a little by the order of events… Bartlemas is at the bottom of the hill, close to The Friary, so it was a little frustrating to be heading back to my previous location. I had to meet Rev Matthew in the main Church Office on Cowley Road, some distance away from the chapel. This area is a very typical East End of a city, but just yards off the main road it is as though you have travelled into the middle of the Cotswolds…. what an incredible place!
The Chapel of the hospital of St Bartholomew, Cowley, has been known from earliest times as the Bartlemas. It was built in 1126 along with a hospital building and wardens house, to accommodate 12 lepers and a chaplain. The site lay on a plateau within Cowley Marsh and had its own gardens, springs and holy well. It was transferred to Oriel College in 1329. It suffered during the Civil War and the Siege of Oxford in 1643, when the Parlimentary’s Army filled in the well, stripped the lead from the roof to use for shot, stole the bell and used the chapel as a stable. However, by 1651 it was restored thanks to the care of Oriel College. The chapel was gifted to the Parish of Cowley St John in 1913 and has been in continuous occasional use ever since.
Chapel of St Ignatius
My final visit of the day (thankfully) was at the other end of Cowley Road – perhaps unusually it was the office of a recruiting company:
Built by Jesuit priest Fr Charles Leslie, in the garden of his house, this was the first Roman Catholic place of worship in Oxford after the Reformation. The chapel is set well back from St Celment’s Street as anti-Catholic sentiment at that time was still strong. It is named after St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. Today the building is an commercial office showing no suggestion of its former life.
However, on Tuesday, 31 July 2018, the feast of St Ignatius Loyola, a Blue Plaque was unveiled 225 years after Fr Leslie built the chapel, commemorating this important place in the post-Reformation history of the Church in Oxford: