Project Development

Nuffield College Chapel

Some six weeks after my initial request to photograph Nuffield College Chapel (HERE), I was granted supervised access, which was somewhat restrictive where possible visiting times and dates were concerned.  However, today was that opportunity, but for the first time I was having to conduct the work without a planning visit.  As a result, I opted to travel with a larger than normal selection of lenses to cover every possible situation.

Dominic Price (2019) Nuffield College Chapel – the liturgical west end, featuring the three lights ‘Symbols of the Stigmata’ by Patrick Reytiens (1961) and the interior design and furnishings of John Piper.

The small chapel lies within a former attic space and was designed in the 1950s by one of the College architects, Thomas Barnes.  Its location dictate the orientation of the chapel and resulted in the liturgical east end (the chancel, containing the alter) being located at the south end.  The entire décor including the design of the pews was the work of English painter and print-maker John Piper.  Having worked alongside stained glass artist Patrick Reyntiens on large commissions including Eton College Chapel and Coventry Cathedral, Piper recommended Reyntiens’ work which resulted in the commissioning of five windows (eleven lights).

There were some wonderful benefits to photography in this space – not least the fact that the windows were immediately accessible at a height that would guarantee no need for post-production correction of perspective.  There were also some difficulties: the lack of space proved awkward on occasion when aligning shots; in some circumstances, the appropriate camera height resulted in the roof immediately outside the window becoming visible in shot.

Dominic Price (2019) 2 light liturgical south chancel. Unedited iPhone image [Patrick Reyntiens, 1961 – Nuffield College Chapel, Oxford]

However, the most demanding problem was the visibility of buildings and foliage through the windows.  This could be resolved in part by shooting at a smaller aperture, but that was not going to compensate for the huge difference created between a background that was partially pale yellow limestone and the bright white sky: either some complicated post-production work will be required, or this would help decide which lights were going to feature.

Project Development

Nuffield College Chapel – West Window

The windows of Nuffield College Chapel present a new difficulty in post-production as a result of the background clutter that influences the appearance of each light.  Following much experimentation it proved impossible to illuminate this during the photography stage and proved significantly more demanding to reduce in post-production.  In a follow-up visit it will be interesting to see whether I have managed to achieve any level of accuracy in terms of colour, saturation and lightness.

The largest of the windows lies at the liturgical east chancel (but is actually the North Window).  It depicts the five wounds of Christ and is titled Symbols of the Stigmata.

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Dominic Price (2019) Symbols of the Stigmata [Patrick Reyntiens, 1961 – Nuffield College Chapel]

Initially, I photographed each of the three lights individually, using an 85mm lens and an aperture of f/1.8, but it transpired that the uniformity of the image was greater when photographed as a whole from a greater distance and at a smaller aperture.  To produce this image, 16 photographs were taken at 248 mm using the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at an aperture of f/8.0 and exposure times ranging from 1/2 s to 1/80 s.  As with all images photographed for my research project, it was taken using the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II.

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Dominic Price (2019) Untitled – Liturgical North Nave [Patrick Reyntiens, 1961 – Nuffield College Chapel]

Not insignificant amounts of the top of these two lights were bleached out by the bright white clouds in the photographs, but the deep blue of this window enabled a slightly more straightforward edit in post-production.  Each of the two lights was photographed separately, so to achieve the composite view of the window above, it was necessary to take 29 photographs using the Canon EF 85 mm f/1.2L II USM lens, at an aperture of f/1.8 and exposure times ranging from 1/2 s to 1/100 s.

Project Development

Chapel interiors

In listening to friends, colleagues and others, on their review of my work, I have decided to renege upon my original plans to present the stained glass window images in isolation.  The location is such an integral part to their story that it makes far better sense to contextualise them within their environment.  To that end the publication will have a two-page spread for each location that will include an east end view (or similar).

This revision will also make easier the decision to include those chapels not adjourned with stained glass.  They can feature as individual pages that also include an east end view.

having finalised the two page spread for my book, there was the need to revisit some sites in order to capture an interior shot of each chapel.


Price, D.C. (2019) The Stained Glass & Chapels of Oxford – mock-up

On a hot day, I was pleased to be travelling without my camera bag or big lenses, using the Canon EF 17-40mm  f/4.0 L USM lens for each shot (although it remained necessary to use a tripod).  In order to present photographs that are true to my mission, I took a batch of ten exposure bracketed images of each interior and then used multiple exposure blending in order to create a dynamic range sufficient that the stained glass remains visible while the interiors are appropriately bright.

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel, St Edmund Hall

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel, Wycliffe Hall

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel, Somerville

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Dominic Price (2019) The ‘new’ College Chapel, Exeter College

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel of John the Baptist, St John’s College

Project Development

St Paul’s – Freud Café

Over the past twelve months I have contacted, to no avail,  Frued Café and its parent company in London on numerous occasions.  In order to photograph this site, the only remaining solution was to knock at the door…

To my surprise, I was greeted by the Manager who allowed me free access there and then. It was almost 20 years since I was last here, and on that occasion it was hosting a photography exhibition of which my work was a part. Time has not been kind on the building. The juxtaposition of glitter balls and fairy lights with the Victorian stained glass seems severe and the aroma of stale beer rather unfitting. The building is now clearly showing its age, with the décor definitely on the dilapidated side of shabby chic. However, it still exists thanks entirely to its change of purpose.

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Dominic Price (2019) St Paul’s / Freud Café

Designed by H.J. Underwood, the building was constructed in 1836 as the Church of St Paul and was the first Anglican church to be constructed in England after the Reformation. The apse was added in 1853 according to plans by E.G. Bruton.

St Paul’s closed as a church in 1969 and was deconsecrated shortly thereafter. Secession Ltd. acquired the site in 1988 to prevent its demolition, opening the doors to the public as FREUD to bring the legendary cocktails of its sister café in London to the people and visitors of Oxford.

Sadly no information has been found relating to the stained glass windows designer or artist.  Photography of the windows was far from easy.  The attractive East Window is backed by trees that are clearly visible through the plain glass within the window and impacting negatively on the appearance of the stained glass.  All of the windows are dirty, some in poor repair, and all affected by the lighting within the building (the Manager was not prepared to turn it all off).  Besides the East Window, there was only one window not obscured in part by fairy lights and pendant lights: Peace

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Dominic Price (2019) Peace [Artist unknown, date unknown – St Paul’s / Freud Café]

Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
Luke 2:28-29
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales:
and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized
Acts 9 :18

To produce this image, 17 photographs were taken at 107 mm using the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at an aperture of f/6.3 and exposure times ranging from 1.3 s to 1/30 s. As with all images photographed for my research project, it was taken using the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II.

With so many support bars, I see little point in attempting their removal – at more than a hour of editing per bar, it would be time poorly spent.

Project Development

Library-based research – more chapels.

Sometimes wading through books and web-pages is the most sensible way forward, but it was frustrating to be doing this on a day when the weather was perfect for stained glass photography!

Omissions are the ever-present danger of trying to produce a ‘definitive’ publication and the last thing I want to hear on publication of book entitled ‘The Stained Glass & Chapels of Oxford’ is, ‘why didn’t you include…?’!  Hence today’s research – and it was not wasted as I have identified a further seven chapels (albeit five of which I believe to have no stained glass):

  • Asian Cultural Centre, Manzil Way: built in 1865, this is the former chapel of the now demolished Cowley Road Workhouse.
  • Chapel, Campion Hall: This private chapel run by the Society of Jesus, is one of the Permanent Private Halls of the University of Oxford. The buildings, along with many of the fixtures and fittings, were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, his only buildings in Oxford.
  • House Chapel, St Stephen’s House: the private chapel of an Anglican theological college (one of six religious Permanent Private Halls of the University of Oxford).
  • Priory Chapel, Blackfriars: the private chapel of the Dominican Friars in Oxford, within the Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford.
  • Rose Hill Cemetery Chapel: Lying within the centre of one an eleven acre Victorian cemetery that contains 16,700 burials, the chapel remains in use despite the cemetery being full.
  • St Teresa of Avila Chapel, Rye St Antony School: Tucked away in the school’s wooded grounds is this private chapel at the heart of the Catholic school’s spiritual life.
  • Warneford Hospital Chapel: ‘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.’  Today the site is Warneford Hospital which provides mental health services for Oxfordshire.  The chapel remains in use, more often as a small music venue, but infrequent services are still held there.

Project Development

Exhibition plans…

615 GalleryWhile firmly settled upon the production of a guide book to the Stained Glass and Chapels of Oxford, I remain committed to the idea of an exhibition of the stained glass windows portfolio.  The most appropriate location is Christ Church Cathedral itself, so I have started that process by making a formal request to the Sub-Dean of Christ Church.

While his response has been most favourable, suggesting the North Transept as the best location, the final decision will be made in October at the next meeting of the Chapter.  This will leave precious little planning and development time between a decision and a potential exhibition, but there is nothing I can do to expedite that decision.

Project Development

Regent’s Park College

In planning visits to a number of chapels that do not feature stained glass, I was delighted to hear the news from one of them: to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of becoming a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford, the Regent’s Park College’s Jubilee Project set about transforming the College Chapel with new décor and furniture, together with a new three stained glass windows, designed by the acclaimed Oxfordshire-based artist, Nicholas Mynheer.  The windows will not be installed until 2020, but the Chaplain has asked if I would be happy to photograph them once in situ, sadly too late for inclusion in my book.  However, I am awaiting permission from the artist to publish the vidimus of one of the windows in leu of a photograph of the window.

I may also seek permission to photograph Mynheer at work in his gallery to provide some additional contextualisation to my work.

The three windows are designed to reflect the central facets of the College’s life, representing Creation, Revelation, and Ministry.

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Nicholas Mynheer (2019) Creation window vidimus [Nicholas Mynheer, 2020 – Regent’s Park College]

The Creation window evokes the very first moments of life, formed like a rain drop from heaven.  From Latin, the College’s name (Collegium de Principis cum Regentis Paradiso) translates as the College of the Prince Regent’s Paradise Garden, so it is fitting that in this design the Garden of Eden is brought together with the community around a tree; an allusion to the Tree of Life.  Rich with symbolism, the window features a whale, from whose belly Jonah was resurrected, and the stag, a sign of mystery, piety and longing for God.  There is a beautiful unity to the design, as the shames of creation imitate one another, reflecting their common origin: stars echoed in the starfish and snowflakes, and flying fish mirror the swallows of the sky.

Project Development

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:

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Dominic Price (2018) The Crucifixion [Artist unknown, date unknown – St Hilda’s College Chapel]

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Dominic Price (2019) The Crucifixion, 2019 edit [Artist unknown, date unknown – St Hilda’s College Chapel]

The Temptation of Man window was less cluttered by the miscellany of modern life.  However, it too benefitted from similar treatment:

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Dominic Price (2018) The Temptation of Man [Artist unknown, date unknown – St Hilda’s College Chapel]

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Dominic Price (2019) The Temptation of Man, 2019 edit [Artist unknown, date unknown – St Hilda’s College Chapel]

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.

Project Development

Multiple visits

While it is not too demanding to take a bus into Oxford, it makes far more sense to arrange multiple site visits for each trip.  The summer months are frantically busy in Oxford with tens of thousands of tourists flocking to the historic attractions every day.  Most colleges opened their doors at either 10am or 11am, so it is important to complete as much photographic work as possible prior to the public opening – something the colleges themselves are also keen to achieve.

Today I had lined up four college chapel visits with the opportunity to re-visit two others and the hope to upgrade my Bodleian Reader Card if time allowed.

Merton College

Merton is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford, founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton. In 1266 the church of St John the Baptist was granted to the scholars of Merton College, but this soon fell into disrepair and by the late 1280s work had begun on the Church of St Mary & St John, now the quire of Merton College Chapel.

The chapel was never completed.  What is seen today is no more than the chancel, transept and crossing: the site intended for the nave was leased to Bishop Foxe in 1517 and subsequently developed to become Corpus Christi College.  By the seventeenth century the chapel was in need of refurbishment.  In 1671 Sir Christopher Wren was employed to fit a new screen, stalls and put right vandalism from the Civil War.

The chapel contains glass of three distinct periods: the original choir glazing is late thirteenth century, late fourteenth century glass of the transepts and later transept glazing of the early fifteenth century.  Despite being no more than a small part of the planned chapel, it was nonetheless pleasingly spacious with the East Window being the most obvious choice for photography.

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel of St John the Baptist, Merton College

Pembroke College

Pembroke College was founded in 1624 by King James I. It incorporates Broadgates Hall, one of the fifteenth century University hostels for law students.

This visit comes only a few weeks after I was singing evensong within the chapel.  Throughout that service I found myself distracted by concerns at to how I might best photograph the windows.  The chapel is small with large windows rather high on the walls.  The Chapel was designed and built (1728-32) by Oxford mason William Townsend. In 1884, stained glass artist and Pembroke alumnus, Charles Kempe, redesigned the interior.  After centuries of damage from pollution, the College Chapel was fully restored in 1972 thanks to the generosity of Dr. Damon Wells, whose name it now bears.  Part of this work included the addition of severe tie bars on each window, appearing more like brise-soleil, sadly they limit the view of Kempe’s work.  Elaborate metal scrolls further mask much of the design at the top of each window.

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Dominic Price (2019) Damon Wells Chapel, Pembroke College

The choice of an appropriate window was going to be difficult, but play safe I opted to photograph two of the windows on the south side: the nativity scene by the altar and the crucifixion by the door.

Campion Hall

I had no knowledge of the existence of Campion Hall prior to my research, which is in itself not too surprising.  However, today’s visit revealed that it was the immediate neighbour of Christ Church Cathedral School – my placement school for two terms during my PGCE studies.  How had I failed to notice it?!

This was a visit to a location without stained glass and to my surprise, there are three chapels within the Hall.

Run by the Society of Jesus and with origins dating back to 1896, it was not until 1918, when granted Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford status that the establishment was renamed Champion Hall.  In 1936 it relocated to its current site which comprises Micklem Hall (formerly part of Hall’s Brewery) and ‘new’ buildings designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and completed in 1936, being the only buildings in Oxford that he designed.  The chapel has beauty in its simplicity while being furnished with Lutyens’ attention to detail: the chapel light fittings having red tassels like those of a cardinal’s hat.

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Dominic Price (2019) Lady Chapel, Campion Hall

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Dominic Price (2019) Lutyens Chapel, Campion Hall

Located just above the Lutyens Chapel in Campion Hall, with windows overlooking, is St Joseph’s Chapel.  This tiny chapel was designed by Edward Lutyens and is used regularly by the Community as a place for quiet contemplation and prayer.  It is a place where Communion is served for individuals or pairs from the Community.

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Dominic Price (2019)  St Joseph’s Chapel

Hertford College

Founded in 1282, Hertford College is best know for its iconic bridge, the Bridge of Sighs. The Chapel is located on the southern side of the Quad, built in 1908 by Thomas Graham Jackson.  The day I visited was perfect for stained glass: overcast and very bright… sadly in a chapel with enormous east-end plain glass windows, this proved problematic when photographing the space, with some flaring of the light evident.  Perhaps this would benefit from a day of thicker cloud cover?

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Dominic Price (2019) Hertford College Chapel

The chapel featured no stained glass until 1994 when the Tyndale Window was installed into the ante-chapel.  Commissioned in 1911 and produced by James Powell, to commemorate the centenary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, this remained in its London home until the society moved in 1985, bequeathing it to Hertford College.  The window commemorates William Tyndale (1494–1536), a scholar of Magdalen Hall (which became Hertford College in 1874), who translated the first English Bible from the original languages, and was executed for his troubles.  Interestingly, Tyndale’s name is misspelled (Tindale) in the window.

There were just a few meters of space in the ante-chapel, giving no option but for the use of wide-angle lens.  I was successful in masking the extraordinarily bright daylight streaming in from east-end plain glass windows, and pleasingly, the window was mounted at an unusually low level, but within a light box that afforded an even but ‘warm’ illumination, rendering the colours in a somewhat sepia hue.  Colour correction was going to be one of a number of challenges in this location.

Jesus College

It was gone 4pm that I visited Jesus College, following a late lunch at The University Club.

Jesus College was founded in 1571 by Elizabeth I as a Protestant college for the education of the clergy.  From the outset, the college students were predominantly Welsh as were many of the fellows.  Even today there is a notable Welsh association with the College housing a Celtic library and being home to the University’s Professor of Celtic.

The chapel was dedicated in 1621 and extended in 1636. Under the watchful eye of Charles Williams, the principal (1857-77), it underwent extensive restoration in 1864 under the architect G.E. Street, which included the addition of a chancel.  The Latin inscription above the archway of the entrance porch is Ascendat oratio descendat Gratia (Let prayers ascend, and grace descend).

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Dominic Price (2019) College Chapel, Jesus College

Within the narthex is a bust of former student T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) by the sculptor Eric Kennington.

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Dominic Price (2019) Thomas Edward Lawrence, Exhibitioner, 1907-1910

With Oxford becoming increasingly busy on this warm summer afternoon, I decided not to do any further photographic work.  This would allow time at home to file, review and possibly start editing some of the images today.

Project Development

Best-laid plans….

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.

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Dominic Price (2019) College Library, St Antony’s College

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.

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel, New College

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’.

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Dominic Price (2019) The Chapel, St Hugh’s College

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.