School memorial chapel, built between 1922 and 1924 to the designs of Adrian Gilbert Scott.
Reasons for Designation
The memorial chapel at Mount St Mary's College, built between 1922 and 1924 to the designs of Adrian Gilbert Scott, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for its elegant and sophisticated design, achieved by the most economical means in the inter-war period;
* as an early but accomplished design by Adrian Gilbert Scott, an ecclesiastical architect who achieved great success and renown during his lifetime, a number of whose works are listed, some at high grades;
* for high level of survival including the original plan form, fixtures and fittings, few of which have been removed or replaced.
* as an eloquent memorial to the tragic impact of world events on the school community of Mount St Mary’s College, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20.
* for the strong spatial and functional group value the memorial chapel holds with the nearby Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1846 to the designs of Joseph Hansom (listed at Grade II), and the school buildings of Mount St Mary’s College (not listed).
The nucleus of Mount St Mary’s College is Spinkhill Hall, the former seat of the recusant Pole family, whose sons were educated by the Jesuits on the Continent during the C17, when the Hall was the centre of a clandestine Jesuit mission. The house and its chapel underwent substantial modifications in 1693, 1769 and 1791, and following the Catholic Emancipation Bill in 1829, the Hall was converted to use as a school by Joseph Hansom in 1842. The school was given the title ‘Collegium Immaculatae Conceptionis Beatae Virginis Mariae’ or ‘The College of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary’, which soon became abbreviated to ‘Mount St Mary’s College’, owing to its hilltop location. Schooling commenced in 1842 in the priest’s or missioner’s house, a plain and simple residence consisting of two floors: the upper floor had been used a chapel since penal times; and the ground floor later became known as Middelton Hall. Joseph Hansom was employed to improve and extend the school buildings, and also to design the Church of the Immaculate Conception to the south of the school (built in 1846, listed at Grade II). A west wing was added in 1859 by Fr Richard Vaughan, more buildings followed in 1876 by Clutton, the Long Gallery was constructed around 1890, and extensions to the south in 1902 and 1912 by C and M Hadfield.
The college had been campaigning for a new college chapel from 1913, and following the First World War, launched an appeal in December 1918 for subscriptions for a war memorial chapel as a permanent monument to the alumni, or ‘Old Mountaineers’ as they are known, who fell in action during the war. The college engaged the services of Adrian Gilbert Scott (1882-1963), an accomplished English ecclesiastical architect, grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott, son of George Gilbert Scott Jr (founder of Watts and Company in 1874), and the younger brother of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, all architects. The school chapel at Mount St Mary’s is one of his early works, after which he designed a number of churches in England, as well as the Anglican Cathedral in Cairo (1933-1938, demolished in 1970), and St James’ Anglican Church in Vancouver, Canada (1935-1937). His listed works in England include: the RC Church of Our Lady of Beauchief and St Thomas, Sheffield (1931-1932, listed at Grade II); a residential project with his brother at 22 Weymouth Street in Westminster (1934, listed at Grade II); RC Church of St Mary and St Joseph, Poplar, London (1951-1954, listed at Grade II); RC Church of St Joseph in Wirral (1953-1954, listed at Grade II); St Leonard’s Church, St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex (in collaboration with his brother, 1953-1961, listed at Grade II); and the RC Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Simon Stock at Aylesford (1958-1965, listed at Grade II*).
Scott’s initial design for Mount St Mary’s proposed a chapel at the centre of the Long Gallery, entered from the west from the forecourt of the school. Due to financial constraints, the school appealed to Scott to revise his plans, and the resultant scheme incorporated a mid-C19 wing at the north end of the Long Gallery, which had hitherto been used as a chapel, study hall, and boys’ dormitory. Drawing inspiration from the Duomo in Florence, construction of Scott’s design commenced in November 1922, and was completed in three phases: the sanctuary and transepts, and reconstruction of the old chapel; the outer dome and lantern; and the sacristy and confessionals. Scott visited Paris to see the construction work on the new tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides, and was able to procure some offcuts of dark reddish brown marble for the sanctuary of Mount St Mary’s. The main altar was consecrated by Bishop Dunn of Nottingham in 1924. The antechapel or narthex at the west end of the chapel bears the names of the ‘Old Mountaineers’ who fell in the First World War, and later Second World War. In 1938 Scott was commissioned to design a Lady Gallery as a fitting place for the statue of Our Lady of the Mount, and although funds were collected for this purpose, the project was never realised. In the late C20, a number of minor alterations occurred: the sanctuary lamp and pendant light fittings, designed by Scott, were removed; the gilded stations of the cross where altered; and the organ and choir benches were replaced following a fire in the choir gallery. The chapel and antechapel retain a high proportion of their original movable oak pews with segmental-headed ends and benches respectively; additional pews were added to the east end of the nave in the late C20.
School memorial chapel, built between 1922 and 1924 to the designs of Adrian Gilbert Scott.
MATERIALS: The roofs of the dome, lantern and stair tower are clad with copper, and all other roofs have a double Roman concrete tile roof covering. The walls are constructed of yellow brick, laid in four courses of stretchers with one course of headers, having dressings of yellow Hornton limestone. The interior floors of the antechapel and chapel are covered in ruboleum, with marble flooring to the sanctuary, and parquet flooring to the sacristy and corridor. The interior walls are rendered and painted with wood panelling to the lower level, and Hornton limestone dressings.
PLAN: The chapel is cruciform in plan with a canted antechapel to the west end, an octagonal-plan dome and lantern to the crossing, an octagonal-plan stair tower to the exterior of the south-west corner of the transept, a canted sanctuary to the east end with an attached rectangular-plan chapel to the north and south, rectangular-plan sacristy south of the south transept, and a rectangular-plan range south of the nave containing a corridor, chapels and confessionals. The chapel is attached to the school at its south-west corner, at the north end of the Long Gallery.
EXTERIOR: The chapel is a double-height structure, roughly cruciform in plan, with an octagonal dome and lantern at the crossing of the nave, sanctuary and transepts. The nave, transepts, sanctuary, side chapels and sacristy all have hipped roofs, and a lean-to roof to the corridor south of the nave, all covered in double Roman concrete tiles. The roofs of the octagonal-plan dome, lantern and stair tower are clad in copper. The walls are constructed of yellow brick, with a red-brick plinth to the north and west elevations (which provides access to the basement), and Hornton limestone dressings to the plinth of the east and south elevations, cornices, stringcourse, window and door surrounds. The side chapels have an open segmental pediment to their north and south elevations. The chapel has windows to its north and south elevations: the nave and sanctuary have round clerestory windows, or oculi, over flat-arched windows; the transepts and side chapels have round-arched windows; the range of confessionals and side chapels have round-arched fanlight windows; and the sacristy, corridor and antechapel have flat-arched windows; all containing metal-framed windows.
INTERIOR: The antechapel or narthex at the west end of the chapel is entered from the south from the north end of the Long Gallery. The round-ended antechapel has a plain cornice and wood-panelled walls incorporating a plain entablature with a dentilled cornice, over blind panels flanked by carved fluted pilasters. The frieze bears the following painted inscription round the room: ‘THIS CHAPEL WAS BUILT TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF MOUNTAINEERS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR US IN THE WAR OF 1914-1918. MAY THEIR NAMES RECORDED HERE BE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF SACRIFICE.’ The blind panels bear the painted names of the ‘Old Mountaineers’ who lost their lives in the First World War and Second World War. The original brown and white ruboleum floor covering survives, with a symmetrical sunburst and margined design. The chapel has rendered and painted barrel-vaulted roofs and walls, with a gilded classical frieze to the base of the dome, and a Hornton limestone entablature with a gilded classical frieze directly under the clerestory oculi. The chapel retains its original gilded stations of the cross, however these were altered in the late C20 with the addition of a segmental pediment and application of a new picture over the original. The walls at low level are wood panelled, with a plain entablature bearing a gold-painted inscription from the Magnificat over a dentilled cornice, plain panelling flanked by fluted pilasters, and three doors to confessionals on the south wall with segmental pediments over. The original floor covering of brown and white ruboleum survives, laid out in a symmetrical grid-like pattern drawing the eye to the sanctuary. The west end of the nave has a round limestone arch and balustrade to the choir gallery, over a limestone door surround with a segmental pediment and double-leaf wood-panelled doors from the antechapel. The door, window, arch and radiator surrounds throughout the chapel are carved of Hornton limestone, with a high proportion of wood-panelled doors surviving. The sanctuary has a three-stepped marble floor with symmetrical black and white margins, and a three-stepped marble platform to the round east end. The reredos at the centre of the east end consists of a round arch with cream marble pilasters, containing a white marble crucifix emerging in high relief from a blind arch of white ‘mareuil’ limestone bearing the words ‘ECCE HOMO’, and a background of dark red ‘rosso antico’ marble. The black-and-white marble high altar and tabernacle were modelled on originals by Della Robbia at SS Apostoli, Florence, with a matching late-C20 forward altar. A late-C20 lectern stands at the south-west corner of the sanctuary, with carved pilasters match the early-C20 wall panelling. To the north and south of the sanctuary, and accessed via arches from the transepts and sanctuary, is a round-ended side chapel with a vaulted ceiling, figurative sculpture, marble altar elevated on a step, and marble floor; the north chapel is dedicated to Notre Dame des Victoires. South of the south side chapel and south transept, the sacristy retains its wood panelling and integrated cupboards, parquet floors and carved limestone water font. The parquet flooring continues throughout the south corridor, from which there are three wood-panelled doors to side chapels (now all offices or storage rooms with altars boxed). The organ gallery is accessed from the entrance to the antechamber, with a concrete stair and plain metal handrail, and organ (dated 1989) and movable benches, both replaced following a fire in the late C20.