Making an Entrance

Sandham Chapel Doors (March 2019) - close-up

Facing south, the large oak doors at the front of Sandham Memorial Chapel bear the brunt of the English weather – come rain or shine.

To protect them from the elements, the original doors were resurfaced with oak in 1957.  In his Management Committee Chairman’s report for that year, John-Louis Behrend notes that the oak had been bought and stored for the purpose 25 years previously.  

Whilst the original doors were virtually flush, with panels simply defined by a slight stepping of the fielding, the 1957 facings have proud panel mouldings and clapping strip.  Although committee records tell us that Mr Head (the builder who originally built the chapel and almshouses) was paid £10.7.6 for the work, unfortunately there is no indication as to why the design was changed.

Stanley Spencer in front of the main doors of Sandham Memorial Chapel
Sandham - Stanley in front of Chapel doors - portrait
Stanley Spencer in front of the main doors of Sandham Memorial Chapel

Minor conservation work was undertaken on the doors as part of our centenary project, but it has become clear that the only way to safeguard the chapel from climatic damage and water ingress, is to replace the 1957 facings.

In doing so, we are keen to reinstate the original design; drawings, sketches and archive photographs have been examined to ensure a design which mirrors the original.  The new facings will be made of oak and will have minimal treatment, allowing them to age and weather over time as both the original doors and the 1957 facings have done.

The temporary door handle at Sandham Memorial Chapel
Sandham door handle blackboard - portrait
The temporary door handle at Sandham Memorial Chapel

Whilst planning the work, the original door knob has taken a turn for the worst.  A temporary modern replacement will keep the doors open until the original knob and mechanism can be fully repaired and conserved as part of the project.


Replacement of the facings and conservation of the original doors will be undertaken by skilled craftsmen and we anticipate that the work will cost in the region of £15,000.  Sales of tickets for our 2019 Special Places Raffle will be helping to support this important conservation work.