Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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

Bedford (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 05336 50508



GV II* 1907-8 by G F Bodley

MATERIALS: English bond red brick with limestone dressings. Clay tiled roof.

PLAN: Nave, short chancel, W tower-porch flanked N and S by two low rooms, SW stair-turret to the W gallery, short aisles between the chancel and the choir and chaplain's vestries flanking the chancel.

EXTERIOR: The approach to the chapel is up a flight of steps, between ramped brick balustrades at the W end, to a doorway in the W face of the small, three-stage tower. The tower has single-light belfry windows and an embattled ashlar parapet, a feature also present on top of the polygonal stair-turret. There are seven bays to the nave, the middle five of which have three-light square-headed windows with minimal cusping in the heads of each light. The bays are demarcated by gabled buttresses. The vestries have their E walls flush with the E wall of the chancel which has a tall three-light Decorated window with a stepped transom. Below this is a foundation stone recording its laying on 18 May 1907. The side walls of the sanctuary have three-light Decorated tracery.

INTERIOR: In the tower-porch there is a stone vault with a central carved boss. Inside the body of the chapel there is a double-chamfered chancel arch on clustered responds and with statue niches to the N and S at the level of the springing. The sanctuary roof is tall with a boarded ceiling bearing restored painted decoration by Bodley. There are moulded arches to the chancel aisles which have flat boarded ceilings wit their original painted decoration. The flooring of the stepped sanctuary is of large-scale black and white paving. Over the nave the roof is a segmental barrel roof, repainted in the 1960 with six crested cross-beams on iron hangers: only the painting on the tie-beams is original. At the W end the organ gallery stands on wooden posts.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The dominant feature is the stalls which are arranged college-wise in four tiered rows. The front seating was added by Cecil Hare, Bodley's successor. Behind the back row the walls are panelled with memorials mostly to boys who fell in the First World War and above which are arched canopies. The backs of the seats are traceried and some of the bench ends have very elaborate carving. At the E end is a large triptych reredos added to the designs of Hare as a First World War memorial. The stone altar is of 1928 and is by Oswald P. Milne, an old boy who became an architect. In the E window the glass is a Boer war memorial while the glass in the N sanctuary passage of 1909 and is probably by Kempe and Co. The lectern and pulpit in the nave are by Cecil Hare.

HISTORY: Bedford School chapel was designed by George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) at the end of a long and distinguished career. Indeed he died on 21 October 1907 as the chapel was being built. It is one of three academic chapels by him the others being at Marlborough College and Queens' College, Cambridge. Bodley was one of the key figures in C19 church-building. He was a pupil of George Gilbert Scott for five years from 1845 and remained with him until he set up in independent practice in 1856. His early work is mostly in a muscular, taut style is characteristic of the time but in the early 1860s he reacted against what he saw as the excesses of High Victorian architecture and helped lead the way to more restrained versions of Gothic. The pivotal building was All Saints, Jesus Lane in Cambridge of 1863-4. In architecture he aspired to what he called 'refinement' and many of his later buildings have great beauty and elegance. He was joined as a partner by Cecil Hare (1875-1932) in 1907 and Hare continued to work in the Bodleian idiom.

SOURCES: Geoff Brandwood, 'Bedford School, Chapel', in Stephen Humphrey (ed), Blue Guide to Churches and Chapels of Southern England, 1991, p. 62 Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Bedfordshire, 1968, p. 51. Antonia Brodie et al., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, vol 1, 2001, pp 211-12, 843.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Bedford School Chapel, Bedford, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It is an outstanding late Gothic Revival building by one of the most important Victorian and Edwardian church architects. * It contains a comprehensive collection of fixtures designed by or in the style of G F Bodley.

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 16 August 2017.


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

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War Memorials Online, accessed 16 August 2017 from
War Memorials Online, accessed 16 August 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from


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

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Date: 17 Oct 1999
Reference: IOE01/00619/22
Rights: Copyright IoE Clive Jones. Source Historic England Archive
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