The transformation of the Chapel at Hidcote
It is thought the building was originally built as an C18 grain store. Between the mid to late C19 the building was converted into a four horse stable with rooms for the livery staff above.
Sometime between 1930 and 1939 the building was converted into a chapel building. It was never consecrated and is orientated on a north / south axis, not an east / west which is usual for an ecclesiastical church building. However, it is quite an enigmatic building. This article will concentrate on the stained-glass windows of the building.
It has been suggested the window on the north side seen on entering the courtyard may have originally been a monastery cloister window. As some of the quarries (glass panes) appear to follow the shape of the tracery, some of the glazing may have been original. However quite where Lawrence Johnston sourced this window and the window on the west side is still a mystery.
The tracery window viewed from inside the building:
•On the left hand tracery; the rich golden sun at the apex and lemon yellow sun beneath it are both C15 work.
•On the right hand tracery; although damaged the ‘man-in-the moon’ image is mid to late C15. •The coloured glass around the tracery borders is also thought to be C15.
•The plain glass was probably produced in the 1930s and exudes a ‘shimmer’ in a similar manner to medieval glass.
Within the centre light is an extremely finely painted and beautifully drawn head with a gold nimbus (a shining cloud surrounding the head of a deity while on earth). It is likely to be French or Flemish and of early C16. It is considered to be a very fine representation of the suffering Christ.
The stained-glass window on the west side is next to what is thought to be a C16 door. Here there are images of two martyrs who died very painfully for their faith. St Sebastian on the left and St Apollonia, the patron saint of dentistry, on the right. Corrosion has taken its toll.
•All the painted and stained images are thought to be C15 with the exception the radiating sun in the third panel from the left which is probably C20.
•On the left hand tracery; archers are firing arrows at a tethered St Sebastian.
•On the right hand tracery; St Appollonia has her teeth shattered and pulled out.
Roger W Johnson
Building Historian – Hidcote