Our iconic chapel will open to the public on September 21 and 22 as part of the 25th annual Heritage Open Days national festival.
Visitors will be welcome to drop in and look round the landmark, which was built to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and listen to organ as they explore the building.
School chaplain, the Rev Alex Ladds, said “It’s a magnificent building and Heritage Open Days provide a perfect opportunity to showcase its many special features.”
The chapel, on a hilltop overlooking the area around Settle, is the subject of a new guidebook funded by former pupil John Duxfield. The book is written by school archivist Barbara Gent.
Barbara said “The chapel was the gift of Walter Morrison, a significant local landowner, school governor, MP and devoted friend of the school. Walter Morrison travelled extensively in his youth and noted on a visit to the Holy Land how well domed buildings sat in the rocky and hilly countryside. Years later, he decided a domed chapel would suit the area near the school.”
Building started in October 1897, the foundation stone laid by the Duke of Devonshire, and the opening took place in October 1901. Sadly, Queen Victoria died before its completion, but she knew about the project and thoroughly approved.
Barbara explained “Our school archives include a letter from Queen Victoria’s private secretary in 1897, expressing her delight at the drawing of the proposed new chapel, which had been sent to her.”
Much of the work was carried out by eminent national craftsmen. For example, the stained glass was by Burlison and Grylls; the glass mosaics were executed by James Powell of Whitefriars with the help of people who had worked on St Paul’s Cathedral. The organ was by famous instrument builder Henry Willis; the wood and stone carvings depicting local flora, crafted by Farmer and Brindley of London.
Barbara said “Major re-roofing in 1996-7 restored the, by then, weathered green dome to its original copper finish. So distinctive was the green dome that it is alleged that during World War Two the Luftwaffe used it as a point of navigation on their way to bomb Liverpool.”
The chapel, its fixtures and furnishings plus the associated gatehouse and cricket pavilion, cost £30,817 – which equates to almost £3.6m in today’s money.*
The chapel will be open between 10am and 4pm on Saturday September 21 and from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday September 22. Recitals take place on the Saturday and access if free. To find out more about Heritage Open Days visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk