Saturday 9 April 2011

Beatification Report - Newman Chapel at The London Oratory

As part of the celebrations for the beatification of John Henry Newman the London (Brompton) Oratory, commisioned a new chapel dedicated to its founder. The new chapel was designed by Russell Taylor who had already been responsible for refurbishing St. Joseph's Chapel, the central chapel on the North side of the nave, where many of the early morning Masses take place. The estimated cost of the new chapel of Blessed Cardinal Newman was £109,020. It is found behind the shrine to St. Peter on the South side of the nave just next to the dome, beneath the organ loft. I was told that it replaced the Calvary chapel. The chapel has a low ceiling and efforts have been made to offset this in it's design. The focal point that draws the eye into the shadowy recess of the chapel is a copy of Sir John Everett Millais’s portrait of John Henry Newman in Arundel Castle. Underneath the portrait is the motto from his grave cross: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (out of shadows and phantasm into truth) and on the font of the altar are Blessed Cardinal Newman’s arms and his motto Cor ad cor loquitur (heart speaks unto heart). The two small windows either side of the shrine have trellis screens that diffuse the light that makes the Chapel darker but also more accessible. This may be as impressions of it seem somewhat overshadowed by the grandeur of other aspects of the very impressive building. The chapel is also somewhat understated in comparison to the new shrine at Birmingham Oratory. However, this is perhaps unsuprising given that with the exception of his time in Ireland, it was at Birmingham that Newman spent almost the entirety of his life as a Catholic.

The Nave and Dome

Saint Joseph's Chapel

The Shrine of St. Peter and Choir Gallery from the side

Shrine of Saint Peter and Choir Gallery from the front

View of Our Lady's Altar and St. Wilfred's Chapel beyond from the Newman Shrine

View down the side Chapels from the Newman Shrine


Shandon Belle said...

OMG, I absolutely love this church but I haven't been there since the new shrine has been built. I don't remember the calvary chapel but I'm guessing the darkness would have been really atmospheric. You really captured the darkness of the chapel. Good job!

Veronica Lane said...

It just goes to show how careful we should be about modern renovations. The excellent juxtaposition of the Calvary and the Sorrowful Virgin across the nave has been broken. Also the wonderfully gloomy chapel under the organ gallery has been totally misused for the shrine to JH Newman, who is a figure of light and enlightenment. Couldn't the chapel of St. Wilfred with the tomb of Frederick Faber have been used instead? Why not use the sacristy chapel on the other side of the sanctuary next to the shrine of San Filippo and build a new sacristy? So many better options than this.

Convenor said...

Veronica, you make an interesting point. I think it has much merit.

Just a Girl said...

Thanks for the positive feedback Shandon.

Anonymous said...

well done!