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History of the chapel

St Mary's chapel was built on top of the original College library in 1962-63 from an original design by leading English Architect Sir Albert Richardson (1880-1964). The design was influenced by the medieval Albi Cathedral, a popular model in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for brick churches.


The chapel's construction marked the end of a long and distinguished tradition appropriate to High Anglican and Roman Catholic worship, its total cost of £104,000 (approximately £1.7 million in today's money) reflecting its lavish scale and superior finishes. It is rare to find a church of the 1960s so massive and traditional, and which is so distinguished a successor to college chapels of previous centuries.

The windows, originally with leaded lights, contain stained glass by the studios of Gabriel Loire, master glazier of Chartres Cathedral. They were unfinished when the Chapel opened in 1963, but were subsequently completed to create an impressive abstract ensemble strong in blues and reds, with contrasting windows of blue and yellow facing the piazza; their underlying concept is the mysteries of the Rosary.

Find out more about the Chapel windows


The projecting spiral staircase linking the chapel with the crypt below is glazed with stained glass by Layers and Westlake, signed and dated 1901, from an unknown original location. Another of the chapel's distinctive features is its reredos set behind the marble altar and steps, painted by Constance Stubbs.


Richardson was one of the last and most renowned architects to work in a traditional style. He was noted for his love of the late Georgian style (and was outspoken in his detestation of modernism in his later years), but the range of architectural styles in which he worked was far greater than is commonly imagined.

Prior to World War II, Richardson's work was predominantly commercial, although it included two churches, in Luton and Greenford, Ealing. His post-war work was more wide ranging, including a range of college and public housing commissions, as well as offices and public buildings. St Mary's chapel, however, is his only complete post-war church, and one of his most significant late works.