Monday, 19 July 2010
Rycote Chapel, Oxfordshire
Rycote chapel was built in the late 1450s for Richard and Sybil Quatermayne, to serve a chantry college founded by them in 1449. The fabric consisting of a west tower, a nave and chancel in one with a barrel ceiling, remains pretty much as they built it. Inside the building are a series of extraodinary furnishings. Medieval benches and stalls still remain in the chancel, but the rest of the furnishings are early seventeenth century and high church. On either side of the rood screen, which is a remodelled medieval screen, are two vast family pews. That on the north is the pew of the Norreys family, who were lord's of the manor. Above it a musician's gallery. The pew to the south, with it's ogee canopy painted like a night sky within, was apparently built for Charles I when he visited Rycote in 1625. With four angels at the corners, it was once topped with an image of the Virgin Mary, an iconographical display that would have enraged any seventeenth century Puritan. In the chancel is a reredos of 1610 and an altar surrounded by balustered rails of the later seventeenth century. Rycote chapel is a glorious example of an Anglican high church interior from those decadent first decades of the seventeenth century and is rare to have survived unscathed.