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Re-discovering Wardell’s Chantry Chapel for Lord Petre : a crumbling fabulation

conference contribution
posted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ursula De JongUrsula De Jong
In January 2009 The Times reported that the Historic Chapels Trust (HCT) was undertaking the preservation and conservation of the Chantry Chapel of Thorndon Hall, near Brentwood, Essex, England, once the seat of the Petre family, one of England’s oldest Catholic families. The chapel has lain severely neglected for many years with missing and loose tiles, blocked gutters, and heavily eroded stonework. In spite of its desperate need of repair, inside, glimpses of the richly carved and lavishly decorated interior remain, witness to exquisite craftsmanship. Because of its quality Nikolas Pevsner had attributed the building to A W N Pugin. More recent research has established that in fact William Wardell was the architect.

By 1854, when Lord Petre commissioned this mausoleum for his estate, Wardell would have been especially known for his London curvilinear decorated churches at Greenwich, Clapham and Hammersmith. Wardell produced three complete sets of drawings for the Chantry Chapel. Drawings for all three designs are extant, and give valuable insights into Wardell's design methods and the evolution of his design thinking. They raise questions about Early Victorian and High Victorian Gothic sensibilities and establish Wardell’s architectural and design credentials beyond a doubt. This paper explores Wardell’s debt to Pugin, posits the Chantry Chapel as a rival to Pugin’s St Giles Church, Cheadle, and considers the question of patronage.

Now acknowledged to be ‘of outstanding architectural and historic interest ‘ by HCT and English Heritage, the Chantry chapel - a crumbling fabulation - is the subject of major heritage considerations. Questions about authenticity in rebuilding and reconstruction are currently overridden by the urgent need to secure the structure from collapse.

History

Event

Society of Architectural Historians Australia & New Zealand. Conference (29th : 2012 : Launceston, Tasmania)

Pagination

241 - 263

Publisher

SAHANZ

Location

Launceston, Tasmania

Place of publication

Launceston, Tas.

Start date

2012-07-05

End date

2012-07-08

ISBN-13

9781862956582

Language

eng

Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Editor/Contributor(s)

S King, A Chatterjee, S Loo

Title of proceedings

SAHANZ 2012 : Fabulation : myth, nature, heritage. Proceedings of the 29th Society of Architectural Historians Australia & New Zealand Conference

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