Chapel History and Architecture
The Chapel is part of the original College building, put up between 1610 and 1613, to the design of William Arnold. The Chapel proper is in a very conservative Gothic style, much more so than the rest of the building (e.g. the ante-chapel) and could easily be taken for a Somerset church of some 150 years earlier.
The great screen, like that in the hall, is by the college's master-carpenter William Bolton. The enclosures outside the screen, now used for storage, are said, though probably incorrectly, to have been for the use of college servants.
The pulpit is original. The wooden panelling and stalls were modified in the XIXth Century. The panelling originally ran round the whole chapel until in 1832 it was decided to mark off the sanctuary with the present stonework.
The ceiling is also of 1832.
The communion-rail and diamond-pattern flooring are of 1669-70.
Originally, therefore, the chapel was much more austere; though, startlingly, the woodwork seems to have been painted red.
Stained glass with religious subjects had been anathema to the Elizabethan reformers; Wadham is notable as one of the first and daring examples of its reintroduction. (It is perhaps relevant that the founders were privately Roman Catholic, although founding a college inevitably tied to the established church.)
Dorothy Wadham had the artist responsible for the prophets on the left (north) side sacked; the anonymous artist responsible for Christ and the apostles on the opposite side was clearly much superior.
The upper panels at the sanctuary end are of the same period, but made for a Belgian convent and bought in after the French Revolution. The great east window was commissioned from the Dutch artist Bernard Van Linge in 1621 for £100.
The glass in the ante-chapel is of course Victorian. (See the chapel.wadham pages for pictures of both the great east window and the stained glass in the antechapel.)
The Ante-chapel is dominated by the great organ case (1886) by the Wadham architect Sir Thomas Jackson (of the Exam Schools). Another Wadham architect, Christopher Wren, may have given the clock in 1671, from which only the clockface, in the quad, still survives.
There are some good monuments, including one to Sir John Portman, a wealthy undergraduate who died in 1624, and near it, a more modest memorial to Thomas Harris, one of the first fellows, who died in 1614; a close look will show that the monument purports to be made of stacked books.
| ||The figures in the ante-chapel floor indicate XVIIth Century burials. |