The Friends seem to pick some of the best weather for our trips remember Roche Court and Chichester and thankfully yesterday was no exception. Due to the success of previous visits to the college this was our second visit to the chapel and this time we were very fortunate to have as our guide Niall Hamilton, now head of admissions at the school but a classicist, artist and art historian who is much missed as a teacher. Niall's knowledge is not only extensive but infectious, when you listen to him you are not only introduced to new things but always left wanting to know more.
Niall was very pleased to see such a good turnout and said how much he enjoyed himself away from the computer. He started with a short history of chapels in English public schools and how they were once seen to be a threat to local parishes. Luckily Marlborough College had a series of enlightened and ambitious masters who not only commissioned the chapel but other significant architecture around the school.
Dr Niall Hamilton
Notable in the chapel are the Victorian reredos not painted and gilded until the 1950s by Sir Ninian Comper and the new organ.
Reredos and organ
Many people were keen to hear about the murals by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, the largest collection of ecclesiastical pre Raphaelite painting. Both the chapel and the paintings were much loved by John Betjeman. In 'Summoned by Bells' he praises the greens and browns of architect Bodley. The paintings though are a colourful contrast showing new and old testament scenes. Niall praised the homage made by Spencer Stanhope to Mantegna and Rossetti and the comical titles which have been given by students over the years.
Painting top right titled 'There's a beard in my soup' by students
Looking up at the gargoyles with prehistoric Marlborough Mound behind
Outside we were able to look more closely at the architecture and then at the Eric Gill sculpture above the west door. After a few questions Niall went back to work and we took a walk through the grounds to the Mount House Gallery for the exhibition 'Resident Tourist' by Timothy Betjeman.
Timothy grew up in New York but finished studying art in London and has recently been artist in residence at Giverney, France (Monet's house and garden). He now has a studio and house at the school and after this introductory exhibition will be showing his new work next year.
Tim's work is well worth seeing and the exhibition runs at the Mount House Gallery until Wednesday 12 October, open Wednesday - Friday 14.00 - 17.00, Saturday 09.00 - 13.00 and Sunday 14.00 - 17.00 or if not open call in the art school next door for admission.