St Helen's Church, Abingdon - Lady Chapel
  Notes in italics from Berkshire by Nikolaus Pevsner (1966)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
  Click photos below to enlarge  

LADY CHAPEL. The layout and most of the fittings are the result of late Victorian re-ordering. The chandelier dates from the mid-17th century. Altar by Bodley, c.1897.

St Helen's Church, Abingdon, Lady Chapel Ceiling
  North side  
  South side  

The roof of the (Lady Chapel) is panelled, and the panels were painted about 1390. The ensemble is unique in England and artistically very valuable. It consists of canted sides painted with figures and a flat top part painted with delightfully traceried interlocked lozenges.


The figures are set in narrow cusped panels and each pair under an ogee arch with panelled spandrels. At the foot, disregarding the panels, runs a vine trail. This motif reveals the whole as having been a Tree of Jesse. (Family tree of Jesus). Prophets and Kings alternate, but at the E end of the N side is Christ crucified framed by the Annunciation.


Jesse himself and the other earliest figures were at the W end of the S side and are not preserved.


An inscription runs all along the cornice of the canted parts and tells us that the chapel was built by William Reve, and the roof repaired by William Cholsey, and that Boniface IX offered an indulgence to those helping in the repair. Reve belongs to the second half of the C13, but Boniface IX ruled from 1389 to 1404, and the indulgence dates from 1391. The style of the figures is typical of this date and may be compared with panels from screens in East Anglia or the Despenser Retable in Norwich Cathedral.


TOMB OF JOHN ROYSSE. He refounded the Grammar School in 1563 after the Dissolution. It has continued up to the present as the prestigious Abingdon School.

  East window of the Lady Chapel  
  To Interior of church

To Exterior of church
  More Buildings of Abingdon  
Home Architecture Index Email:  Maps Link  (U.K.)

All photographic images on this website are Copyright the website owner 2001 or later unless otherwise stated. Email contact above. Full size originals (3-6 megapixels)  are available for approved purposes.