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Common Time 2019

Thurbern's Chantry

Thurbern's Chantry - looking SW
 Thurbern's Chantry: fourteenth century glass in south Wiwdow

The Chantry Chapel of Robert Thurbern (Thurbern's Chantry) stands on the south side of Chapel with its western half directly below the bell tower. Both were rebuilt, from new foundations, in 1862-3 with much of the old material carefully reused as a result of the College surveyor's numbering of the stones.

The Chantry Chapel, built in accordance with the wishes of Warden Thurbern, was begun in 1473-4 and was built in the English late Gothic Perpendicular style. The basic work was completed in 1476-7 but the stone vaulting (in contrast to the Chapel's wooden vaulting), was not built until 1484-5. The vaulting is noted for its bosses of which there are 41 - coats of arms and monograms, foliage, heraldic badges and grotesques. It is likely that the vaulting was supplied ready made from the workshop of William Orchard in Oxford.

The last part of the Chantry to be completed was its stained glass of which about half survives. The date was 1502 and it is most likely that the work of glazing was carried out by the king's glaziers in Westminster as there are exact stylistic similarities with Great Malvern Priory, which was similarly glazed and has a precise date of construction (November 1501 to April 1502).

As a result of the re-building in 1862 changes were made to the Chantry. A new window was opened into the west wall and the south wall saw changes in glazing to the extent that other ancient glass could be included, in particular that used in the upper room of Fromond's Chantry. Today it is in the window of the west wall of the Chantry that some of the old east window Chapel glass can be seen. A remarkable feature is its general lightness and opacity - an aspect not replicated in the new glass of the Chapel.  One of the panels of the old glass is on permanent loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum and is identified by the (modern) label ‘Joas'.

An interesting diversion can be undertaken when comparing the original (Chantry) glass with the newer (east window) glass. In all there are some fourteen examples of comparison. For those so inclined one of these can be given: the lower right hand side panel of the west window of Chantry depicts St John the Baptist with King Richard II. The newer (1822) version can be seen in the east window of Chapel as the second panel from the right at lowest level.