King’s College London Chapel Windows

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Above: Two of the windows showing St Mary Magdalen (left) and St Mary the Virgin.

One thing that strikes anyone who visits the chapel is the stained glass. If it happens to be a sunny day, the light streams in through the vivid colours and produces a remarkable effect. They were made by Joseph Nuttgens who was born in 1941. Educated by Dominicans and brought up within a milieu of idealistic Catholicism, he left to study at the Central School of Art and the Royal College of Art, completing his studies in 1964. On the death of his father in 1982 he re-established this studio and, since then, has designed and made stained glass windows for cathedrals, churches and many other venues.

The chapel at King’s College London has been through several ‘make-overs’ since it first opened in 1831. April 2001 saw the completion of all 19 original stained glass windows for the newly restored King’s College London Chapel. They replaced the original Clayton & Bell windows destroyed during the Second World War.

George Gilbert Scott’s original design for the chapel was to have significant characters from the Old and New Testaments in the windows on the north and south walls with five scenes from the life of Christ in the central apse over the altar. This idea was followed by Nuttgens in his new windows.

Two side windows represent the call of God to Abraham and to Paul, two giants in the Bible who lead the list of those who responded to God in the Old and New Testaments. The north wall continues with New Testament figures: the four Gospel writers with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of our Lord in the centre windows. The south wall contains figures of the Old Testament showing the key aspects of Prophets, Priests and Kings: Samuel and Isaiah, Moses and Aaron, and David and Solomon.

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Above: Windows showing St Matthew (left) and St Luke.

In the apse we have the same five topics originally conceived by George Gilbert Scott – ‘Christ in the carpenter’s shop’, ‘Christ and the lawyers’, ‘Christ healing the sick’, ‘Christ teaching the people’ and, finally, ‘The Crucifixion’.

No photographs can really do justice to the vivid colours seen in the stained glass. There is no substitute for actually observing this stained glass on a sunny morning when the windows are to be seen at their best.

-ENDS-

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