Lower Chapel, Eton College


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Lower Chapel, Eton College, Keate's Lane, Eton


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Statutory Address:
Lower Chapel, Eton College, Keate's Lane, Eton

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Windsor and Maidenhead (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 96500 77783


851/1/4 851/4/4

ETON KEATE'S LANE (south side) Lower Chapel, Eton College



1889-91 by Sir Arthur Blomfield.

MATERIALS: Finely dressed, coursed Bath stone ashlar.

PLAN: Nave and sanctuary in one, S aisle, SW stair turret, SE internal vestibule.

EXTERIOR: This college chapel has an imposing, unified design in the Perpendicular style. On the N it fronts directly on to the street and to the S is separated by a small open space from Queen's Schools with which it makes a fine group. The nave and chancel form a single space of six bays with a lower aisle to the S. A distinction is made between the five bays of the nave and the single bay of the sanctuary through the use of differing tracery forms of the clerestory. In the nave the windows are of three broad lights with conventional C15 tracery under pointed hoods whereas in the E bay there is a pair of two-light windows, again with Perpendicular tracery but under more ornate ogee-headed hoods. In the aisles there are paired two-light windows in four of the five bays, the W bay having a two-light window and a doorway. The bays are delineated by buttresses with offsets. These are topped by shafts which rise through the parapets to form pinnacles. Over the nave and sanctuary the parapet is crenellated, over the aisle it is plain. At the E end is a large Perpendicular window of five lights. At the W is a high-set W window and at ground level a series of one-light openings which light the vestibule space beneath the organ and which gives access to the body of the chapel. At the SW corner the octagonal stair turret is of three stages and has an openwork top with crenellations. There are entrances into all four corners of the building.

INTERIOR: The interior is a tall, spacious rectangle whose large windows contribute much to the character of the building. On the S and nave and separated by low, four-centred arches and piers with continuous mouldings. In the aisle there are transverse arches between the bays and which form part of the buttressing system. The main roof is of hammerbeam construction: the intermediate principal rafters have angels at wall-plate level holding shields with instruments of the Passion. The roof is in three tiers the middle one having wind-braces. The aisle has a flat, boarded ceiling, divided by moulded ribs into square panels.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The fixtures are largely the result of a refurnishing scheme c.1924 by the architect Walter Tapper. The dominant feature is the seating which is laid out college-wise with five tiers of benches with shaped ends in the nave and four tiers with poppy-heads in the aisles. At the W end of the nave there are return stalls. The W end is dominated by a large organ with four towers of pipes separated by three flats: Tapper's design is based upon a Father Smith case of c1700 which used to stand in the main college chapel but is now in the Dominican church at Rugeley, Staffs. It stands on a gallery with an ornately treated Gothic screen facing the body of the chapel which was executed by L A Turner. The stone reredos by Tapper is richly traceried in the Perpendicular style and depicts the Crucifixion in its main panel. In marked contrast to the Gothic architecture and ornamentation of the W gallery, the panelling round the arches to the aisle and on the N wall is in Renaissance style and is by Tapper and Reynolds. The large rectangular panels on the N side are filled with tapestries designed by Lady Chilston and woven by Morris and Co. in c1920. In the sanctuary the arched sedilia recess has space for three seats: in its head there is ornate cusping. There is an extensive collection of stained glass by C E Kempe, with the E window, depicting the Crucifixion etc, being the earliest, 1894. Further Kempe windows were added down to 1910.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The chapel adjoins the Queen's Schools and Museum which are also by Blomfield and are in a red brick, Tudor style.

HISTORY: The chapel was built as part of the general expansion of Eton College at the end of the C19.

The church was designed by one of the most active and successful church architects of the Gothic revival, Arthur William Blomfield (1829-99) who was the fourth son of Bishop Charles J Blomfield of London (bishop 1828-56). He was articled to P.C. Hardwick and began independent practice in 1856 in London. His early work is characterised by a strong muscular quality and the use of structural polychrome often with continental influences. Later on, as here at the Eton Lower Chapel, it is much more restrained. He became diocesan architect to Winchester and was architect to the Bank of England from 1883. Blomfield was knighted in 1889 and was awarded the RIBA's Royal Gold Medal in 1891.

Walter Tapper (1861-1935) was a distinguished early C20 church architect who had been chief assistant to the great Victorian church architects Bodley and Garner. He set up in independent practice in 1893 and became consulting architect to York Minster from 1907 and surveyor to Westminster Abbey from 1928. He was knighted in the year of his death and is buried at Westminster.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Lower Chapel, Eton College, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It is an outstanding example of a late Victorian college chapel which contains a complete set of fixtures and furnishings from a major early C20 scheme. * There is fine work by a number of important late C19/early C20 architects, designers and craftspeople. * It has very strong group value with Queen's Schools.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Brodie, A, Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 Volume 1 A-K, (2001), 204
Brodie, Antonia (ed.), Directory of British Architects, 1834-1914: Vol. 2 (L-Z), (2001), 756
Pevsner, N, Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, (1994), 318
British Geological Survey, Strategic Stone Study, accessed 05/02/2020 from https://www.bgs.ac.uk/mineralsuk/buildingStones/StrategicStoneStudy/EH_atlases.html


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 20 Oct 1999
Reference: IOE01/01422/23
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Derek Reay. Source Historic England Archive
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