King's College Chapel, Cambridge


King's College Chapel, Cambridge

King's College Chapel is the chapel to King's College of the University of Cambridge, and is one of the finest examples of late English Gothic or Perpendicular style.

Building of the Chapel

Henry VI planned a university counterpart to Eton College (whose chapel is very similar, although unfinished), the chapel being the only portion that was built. The King decided the dimensions of the Chapel. The architect was Reginald Ely, who was commissioned in 1444. The first stone of the Chapel was laid on St James' Day, July 25, 1446, the College having been begun in 1441. By the end of the reign of Richard III (1485), despite the Wars of the Roses, five bays had been completed and a timber roof erected. Henry VII visited in 1506, paying for the work to resume and even leaving money so that the work could continue after his death. In 1515, under Henry VIII, the building was complete but the great windows had yet to be made.

The Chapel features the world's largest fan vault, stained glass windows, and the painting "The Adoration of the Magi" by Rubens, originally painted in 1634 for the Convent of the White Nuns at Louvain in Belgium.

The Great Windows

The windows of King's College Chapel are some of the finest in the world from their era. There are 12 large windows on each side of the chapel, and larger windows at the east and west ends. With the exception of the west window they are by Flemish hands and date from 1515 to 1531. Barnard Flower, the first non-Englishman appointed as the King's Glazier, completed four windows. Gaylon Hone with three partners (two English and one Flemish) are responsible for the east window and 16 others between 1526 and 1531. The final four were made by Francis Williamson and Symon Symondes. The one modern window is that in the west wall, which is by the Clayton and Bell company and dates from 1879.

Current use

The Chapel is actively used as a place of worship and also for some concerts and college events. The Chapel is noted for its splendid acoustics. The world-famous Chapel choir consists of choral scholars (male students from the college) and choristers (boys educated at the nearby King's College School), conducted by Stephen Cleobury. The choir sings services on most days in term-time, and also performs concerts and makes recordings and broadcasts. In particular, it has broadcast its Nine Lessons and Carols on the BBC from the Chapel on Christmas Eve for many decades. Additionally, there is a mixed-voice Chapel choir of male and female students, King's Voices, which sings evensong on Mondays during term-time.

The Chapel is widely seen as the symbol of Cambridge (for example in the logo of the city council).

References

* Saltmarsh, John: "King’s College" (in "Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire", Volume III, ed. J.P.C. Roach, 1959)

External links

* [http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel/ King's College: the Chapel]
* [http://www.googleearthhacks.com/dlfile19148/The-Kings-College-Chapel-in-3D,-GE4.htm 3D model of the chapel for use in Google Earth]
* [http://www.ofchoristers.net/Chapters/CambridgeKingsCollege.htm A history of the choristers of King's College Chapel]


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