Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul: A Structure with Character

A new home and community also comes with appreciation for new things and if you haven’t been impressed by the food, the scenery or the people, you should at least be impressed by the architecture and most especially the chapel. It doesn’t matter whether you are religious or share similar religious beliefs as the school, the artistic inspirations that emanates from the chapel should galvanize your art senses and appreciation for arts and architecture as it serves as a fortress or inspiration. Before I expatiate the fundamentals behind the marvelous structure, a good point for you to contemplate is whether the artistic nature of the chapel (which I refer to as its character) serves more than its religious purpose to you? In other words, is the chapel more than a chapel?

The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul, also known as the New Chapel, (even though it is 126 years old) was a vision of the Late Reverend Dr. Henry Augustus Coit, first rector of St. Paul’s School, who saw that the Chapel of St. Paul, also known as the Old Chapel, built in 1858 after the school was founded was losing its accommodating capacity due to increasing enrollment. Accumulation of funds for the project, led by an alumni committee was achieved in 1886. With a total of $100,000 (equivalent to over $2.5 million in today’s value), construction commenced that same year after English architect, Henry Vaughan, was recruited to design the building. Inspiration for the style of the building comes from the architect’s respect for ancient English Gothic architectural styles as well as the church’s Episcopalian background. Construction of the Chapel was completed in 1888 after which it was blessed. Upon completion of construction, the chapel did not have a tower and was smaller in size than it is presently. Its breath is estimated to be the same length as the tower we see today. 

The tower was added to the structure in 1894 along with the cloister. Again, whether you are religious or not, the chapel provides you with an avenue of drawing inspiration and providing the same experience as you would gain from visiting a museum.

Who hasn’t seen the windows? That part of the chapel, which provides the pictorial and colorful storyline that it, tells. They represent another idiosyncratic feature about the chapel that makes it possible for visitors to take a tour of it without the need of a tour guide. In total, there are 20 frames of tainted lancets (or narrow windows which form part of the bigger window), each one telling a special story to which the chapel relates and each one, a special gift from an admirer, alumnus or person related to the school in various ways.  The windows on the right side of the chapel starting from the one above the south door depicts angels to signify guidance as we leave and enter the chapel. Still on the right side on of the choir (the section where everybody sits), from the rector’s stall (where Mr. Riccard sits), depicts the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection as well as ascension of Jesus Christ. The rest of the windows on the right side of the chancel (the part where nobody dares to go) are dedicated to Saints who had special impact on the chapel and school. The windows on the left, starting from the chancel are dedicated to apostles: the parable of the Sower, the Seeds and the Soil and martyrs. The latter dedication is the oldest in the chapel. The rest of the windows on the left depict events that took place with Christ and the His apostles. In all, the windows could be said to be another part of the chapel, which serves more than its religious purpose and they undoubtedly serve as inspirations for artists and writers. 

Unlike many other structures in the school, The Chapel of Peter and St. Paul is not dedicated to any person associated with the school but solely to the Saints: Peter and Paul. Furthermore, for those of you who would not use the chapel for it worship, consider using it as a shelter for drawing inspiration of all kinds and laying all your thoughts. So if the chapel’s music, prayers and lectors have not impressed you yet, its artistic architecture should still be awing you by now if your mind hasn’t already been blown away. 
Special thanks
Mr. Berkley Latimer
Mr. David Levesque


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This article was great. The level of dept you went into really shows how important the chapel is as the center for our day. The picture tie the entire thing together and are a beautiful representation of St. Paul's.

  3. Franklin great pictures! Where did you get them?

  4. Sami, thanks a lot. I just thought if you had to know, then you should know everything. Mason, I know right, i just happen to be one of the best underground photographers available.