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News > Club News > What happened to Rugby School Chapel Reredos

What happened to Rugby School Chapel Reredos

What happened to the original reredos in Rugby School Chapel? the story so far...
13 Jun 2023
Club News
The original chapel reredos c1902
The original chapel reredos c1902

When the current chapel (designed by William Butterfield) was built in 1872, a mosaic reredos designed by Salviati of Murano[1] was installed at the east end of the chapel behind the alter. The following text is a description from the 1913 Chapel Guide:

The central cross, given by the Rev. C. T. Arnold, takes the place of an altar-piece, shewn in Radclyfie's interior, presented by Mr. Bloxam, now in the Art Museum. Round the cross are the four Evangelists, given by Canon Hutchinson. S. John the Baptist was given by E. A. Were, Bishop of Derby; thirteen others, Old Testament Heroes, and Mediaeval Saints: Elijah, Samuel, Joshua, Abraham, Noah, Abel, on the left; and S. Stephen, S. Cyprian, S. Chrysostom, S. Ambrose, S. Augustine, S. Gregory, S. Louis, on the right, were gifts from Old Rugbeians, among whom are Dr. Collis, G. R. Westfeldt, L. W. Novelli, the Rev. A. L. Oldham, the Rev. G. T. Oldham, C. J. Oldham, J. Gray, and others whose names have not been recorded.

In 1939 the School planned to refurbish the chapel but this was prevented by the Second World War. In 1959 the School revisited the idea of refurbishing the chapel and began work to restore stone work, move the organ and redecorate. The architect at the time, Dykes Bower, suggested considerable alterations to this part of the Chapel to make the Reredos more prominent. This was agreed to by the Chapel Committee. It was decided that the central panel would remain at the School and be placed in The Art Museum (not in the TRR by this time) with the alter from the original chapel built by Hakewill (it is not known what happened to this alter after the 1960s). In 1991 the central panel was moved to the new Rugby School Museum on Little Church Street (where the bursary is now located) and then to the current location of the School Museum in 2007/08. The only other pieces to remain at the School were St Louis and Abraham - until recently they were in the quad between the chapel and memorial chapel but have recently been moved to the archives to keep them safe.

The other pieces of the reredos, were sold to members of staff at the School. In 2022 Alfred Champniss (Music teacher in the 1960s) in his will, left the mosaic of St Stephen to the School. The Archives Manager collected the mosaic from his solicitors, in Bushey, in November 2022. Four more pieces are currently on their way back to the School and we will update you when they arrive.

Here in the archives we are invetigating what happened to the rest of the reredos, if you remember anything about this or know what happened to the four evanglisits, the saints and prophets we are looking for do get in touch.

[1] A family called Salviati were glass makers and mosaicists in Murano, Venice and also in London, working as the firm Salviati, Jesurum & Co. of 213 Regent Street, London; also as Salviati and Co. and later (after 1866) as the Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company (Today Pauly & C. - Compagnia Venezia Murano).

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