Restoration of the Chapel
The Chapel is a remarkable building. Built under the Mastership of Matthew Wren, there is nothing else quite like it.
We have just completed a first phase of restoration. The aluminium roof, installed in the 1950s, was failing. We had aimed to replace it with lead, but the structural engineers discovered that the stone facing, added by Perne over the original brickwork, was starting to peel away: a heavier lead roof could accelerate the process. So we compromised on lighter stainless steel, together with a series of ties to keep stone and brick together. While the scaffolding was up repairs were made to the decorative masonry on the outside of the Chapel, and the magnificent East Window, modelled after an engraving of Ruben’s Coup de Lance, was removed to Wells for restoration; clear glass was inserted in the intervening period and has remained in place to protect the restored glass . The heating has been replaced and the organ loft strengthened.
There are also other projects that we would like to consider, such as cleaning the oak of some of the late 19th century varnish would reveal its colour and grain. The mid-19th century Munich side windows need some preservation; if we take them out for that, we will have a much better idea of what the Chapel looked like for most of its life. Removing the central stalls would take the floor plan back to how it was in the early 19th century. We recently received an Archdeacon's Licence to remove the Victorian choir stalls to explore alternative places for the choir to stand, and discovered that the original seventeenth century benches were still in place underneath the Victorian benches. We are keen to retain the original benches, and have just received a donation to replace the supports that had rotted away. A plan for new lighting has also been agreed. Funds towards the restoration have been allocated from the Chapel fund, but further donations would be most welcome, particularly as we will be experimenting further in the course of the next academic year!