St Nicholas Chapel. Left: East end. Right: South elevation.
In the early Victorian period, Carisbrooke Castle's main chapel (there had been a private one as well, in the Staircase Hall, opening off the Great Hall) was an eighteenth-century rebuild of the ancient foundation here. That rebuild was dismantled in 1856, as indicated on the masonry itself under the east window. The chapel was not rebuilt again until the early twentieth century. Its full designation is "The Chapel of St Nicholas in Castro."
This new rebuild was designed by Percy Goddard Stone (1856-1934), coincidentally born the very year that the previous one was dismantled. Stone was an archaeologist as well as an architect, who did a great deal of work on the Isle of Wight, and deeply appreciated its ancient history. The old masonry was reused, and the present chapel served first as a new memorial to Charles I, then, having been redecorated in 1929 by the architect himself, as the island's main war memorial. It is a simple rectangular building, very suited to its largely and still fundamentally medieval context.
Chapel interior. Left to right: (a) Memorial bust of Charles I at the west end. (b) South side with stalls. (c) Looking towards the east window.
The interior comes as a surprise: it is beautiful. A memorial to Charles I is housed in an elaborate alcove at the west end. The nave is lined with stalls on either side, ranged against the walls, and has painted panels on its wagon roof, "traceried panels between the windows, figure sculptures on the cornices, ... a painted reredos under an elaborate openwork canopy" (Lloyd and Pevsner 111).
The fine stained glass window at its east end was designed by J. Dudley Forsyth — an artist who had worked for both James Powell & Sons and Henry Holiday, but was now working on his own account. It shows the risen Christ with the two Marys on either side, cherubim at his head and other angels all around.
Percy Stone designed many buildings on the Isle of Wight, and also the Victoria Memorial in Newport. His work spans both the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This chapel is a fine example of it.
Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
"Carisbrooke Castle." British History Online. Web. 1 December 2017.
" J. Dudley Forsyth (1874-1926)." Gwydir Lliw Nghymru: Stained Glass in Wales. Web. 1 December 2017.
Lloyd, David W., and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006.
Created 1 December 2017