Saturday, 21 July 2018

Magdalene College Chapel, Cambridge

Magdalene, bizarrely pronounced maudlin, was my first college chapel visit and at the time I loved it - it seemed to me the quintessential college chapel and the college itself is superb. But then came Jesus and St John's and Christ's and Queen's and retrospect I think it's a mid range chapel, not without interest but not exceptional.

Contemporary with these early ranges of chambers seems to have been the erection of the CHAPEL. A doorway now no longer in its original form was regarded by Willis as the earliest looking at the college. The Chapel is much altered, inside and out, but the roof, though restored, is essentially original, and probably of the C15. Otherwise a renovation of 1733-55 and another of 1847-50 (by Buckler) have deprived the chapel of most of its original details. The only items worth noting are the four charming canopied niches at the E end. The window tracery belongs to the mid C19. So does the STAINED GLASS. The E window was designed by Pugin and carried out by Hardman. It is in a Latest-Gothic German style, rich and busy, and completely different from Pugin’s earlier, chaster, East-Anglian-looking glass. The E window on the SE side is uncommonly attractive in its modest conservatism. It reflects the accepted type of glass panelling of ten or twenty years before, with small figures in medallions, and is pale and timid in the execution. The design is by Miss Cleaver who was assisted by the President and some Undergraduates. The date is 1851. The other windows are a little later, also by Hardman and entirely mid-Victorian routine work.


Henry VI

N aisle window (15)

The hall and the chapel are where they stood when the college was a hostel for the monks. The chapel was altered in the 18th century and restored in the 19th, but it keeps its old roof. The rich screen has an entrance with floral bosses in its panelled roof. The stalls have  traceried panels, and in fine niches near the altar are figures of Henry the Sixth with orb and sceptre, Mary Magdalene with her box of spikenard, Etheldreda with a model of her abbey, and Benedict with a staff and a book.


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