News/Events

24 September:  6 pm Choral Evensong

1st October: Next Parish Lunch

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From BBC4: As promised, I am writing to let you know that our series starts on BBC4 next week, and the filming we did outside the church features in Episode 1, which is on BBC4 Tuesday 8th Aug at 9pm. We had a beautiful day for filming and the statue of Thomas More looks stunning. Now available on BBC iplayer at

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b090c2pj/utopia-in-search-of-the-dream-series-1-1-blueprints-for-better

                                           -0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0                                                  Received recently from the Prior Studios photos of a couple of drawings by William Orpen, one of them below.


Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, KBE, RA, RHA (27 November 1878 – 29 September 1931) was an Irish artist who worked mainly in London. Orpen was a fine draughtsman and a popular, commercially successful, painter of portraits for the well-to-do in Edwardian society.

During the First World War, he was the most prolific of the official artists sent by Britain to the Western Front.                                (Source: Wikipedia)

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Received an article dated 1922 when a medieval stained glass window was discovered when panelling was removed that covered the window between the Vestry and Lawrence Chapel. The window was sent to the V&A Museum with a plan to eventually restore it to Chelsea Old Church.

If the window returned before WWII when the Church was bombed it may have been destroyed, however enquiries were made to V&A to see whether they have records of the window's fate.

Here is the response from V&A.

 1922: Sarah Colvile monument, which stood in Lawrence Chapel in front of north east window, moved. Window was plastered up both inside and outside and when plaster removed revealed a stained glass window. Francis Eeles, renowned stained glass expert, identified the window as made between 1320-1340, the oldest window in London apart from Westminster Abbey. The window was sent to V&A museum, then Maurice Drake for restoration then back to V&A to be exhibited then returned to Chelsea Old Church.

So probably destroyed in 1941.

But research at British and Kensington Library and stained glass experts revealed that the Chelsea Society had paid for transferring the window to the crypt at St Lukes' in 1939 for safekeeping. An original search at Chelsea Old Church had not found the window but a more 'in depth' study had found the window sandwiched inside a broken 19th C window in the Tower clock room. The window was now in 4 main parts, pictured below, plus many smaller pieces of glass.





The top two were Maurice Drake restorations, the third the 1320 medieval window which is still curved having been folded within another longer window. The fourth the remains of the wording added in 1922.

The inscription at the bottom says:

To the glory of God and in memory of the unknown saints who for centuries have worshipped Him in this place. This window was uncovered on St Bartholomew day 1922 was recreated 1923.

The 14th century glass of this window was originally in the western light of the eastern most window in the north wall of the Lawrence Chapel opposite blocked by the Lawrence Chapel and Colvile monuments  After CCC years the glass was found behind layers of plaster in August 1922.

All of the window is now at Canterbury Cathedral stained glass studio for conservation advice.

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December

RAPt Carol Concert Chelsea Old Church

The Chapel Choir and Folk Group went to London to sing as part of a Christmas Carol Service in aid of RAPt. They performed to an audience containing a number of famous faces including Lulu, Dougray Scott, Anna Chancellor and Joanna Trollope. Their singing was of the highest order, they were tremendous company throughout the afternoon and a credit to the school.

Lola started proceedings with a wonderful solo of Once in Royal David's City - particularly courageous when you realise that many people in the audience were still chatting when the music started. The folk group gave a magical rendition of Silent Night. The whole choir also sang a wonderful Angel's Carol by Rutter.

After the service they had an opportunity to meet some of the stars.

Clearly a huge thank you goes to Lyndon Wall and Debbie Cassell for preparing the girls.



More Chapel Repointing with Lime Mortar

The South and East walls of the More Chapel, built in 1528, were built with bricks and lime mortar and survived the Blitz blast.

After WWII they were repointed with cement, hard and non-porous, unlike lime mortar, this means rain soaks into the bricks and instead of evaporating via the lime mortar exits via the brick. Then the bricks deteriorate rather than the mortar, see below:

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The Church architect recommended that the cement was replaced with lime mortar. The Diocese recommended that the cement should be removed with a chisel only not an angle grinder that is usually used as one wrong move and the rare bricks could be damaged.

The bricks sustained considerable damage using a chisel as the cement adheres to the brick edges and when the cement is removed the brick comes with it.

When an architect consultant to the Diocese saw the results she suggested that we should

a)      consider leaving the wall as repointing could potentially cause more damage than the cement

 b)      try another test area using an angle grinder

Cement was removed using angle grinder and chisel by James White, an experienced restorer/conservator. The results created less damage.

The wall was left over winter to weather and a decision on whether to repoint the rest of the wall with lime mortar or leave. Having seen photos of the wall earlier in the year (2016) the Diocese has given permission to remove the cement with an angle grinder and work on the south wall which has now been completed.

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In the Churchyard - June




                                  

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A New Church Organ at Chelsea Old Church

The organ plays a crucial part in the life of the church, used every Sunday and frequently during the week for funerals, memorials, baptisms and weddings. 

The current organ, built in 1957, replaced the instrument lost when the church was bombed.  Like the church itself, the organs of Chelsea Old Church have a long and interesting history.  Most notable amongst these was an organ by the famous builder of the day, Renatus Harris, which is believed to have stood in the church from 1712-1723.  The early removal of this instrument (for unknown reasons) prevented its eventual destruction had it remained up until 1941, and parts of it are believed still to be in existence in a church in Devon.


The present instrument is reaching the end of its working life and the church has begun the project of acquiring a new organ.  The opportunity exists to build a fine new instrument that will not only serve the needs of the parish, but also play a part in the wider musical life of Chelsea.

The new organ is likely to weigh more than the present one so a structural survey had to be carried out to identify the materials and dimensions of the gallery, as unfortunately no drawings of the Church are traceable. Carden and Godfrey the rebuild architects, Historic England, Diocese of London, London Metropolitan Archives, K&C reference library do not have drawings.

Invitations to tender were sent to a shortlist of organ builders and the result was the Devon-based organ builders William Drake were chosen to build the organ.

https://sites.google.com/site/chelseaoldchurch2/organ

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The Clock at Chelsea Old Church

The Edmund Howard clock, 1761, formerly at Chelsea Old Church, but where is it now? The present clock, made by Dents, who built Big Ben, was installed in 1950's.

It was assumed the 1761 clock was destroyed during the 1941 raid, but a horologist has found a film of the clock alive and well at Dent's workshops and can be seen from 1 minute 59 seconds to 2 minutes 10 seconds in the Pathe film here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpoVTvvAT6U 

which was filmed at Dents in 1959.

So the search is on for the Howard clock.

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Dacre Monument

Conservation and restoration work started on 28th January by conservators Granville and Burbidge and was completed 7th March 2014. The work was funded by the Dacre family in memory of the 27th Baroness Dacre.


Remains of Dacre Monument beside More Chapel after Blitz, 1941

Obelisk before during and after

mouldings before and after

Skull, wings and hourglass before and after 



The dog at the feet of Lady Dacre removed to measure up for a new right front leg and reattach the left leg.

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Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, attended a friend's wedding at the weekend, having just returned home after their whirlwind stay in New York. The royal couple were guests at the ceremony, which took place at Chelsea Old Church near the River Thames.

The occasion may well have been a trip down memory lane for the Duchess, as the church is situated on the very same road as the Middleton's London home, where Kate shared a flat with Pippa in the years she lived in the capital after graduating from St Andrews.
Kate, who is currently five months pregnant with her and William's second child, looked elegant in a floor-length black lace gown with full-length lace sleeves, most likely the same one by designer Diane Von Furstenberg that she opted to wear  to the star-studded Royal Variety Performance last month.

For the wedding, the Duchess accessorised with a small sparkling black clutch and black heels, wrapping up against the chill with a red tartan scarf that was draped over her shoulders. She wore her brunette locks loose over her shoulders.
Courtesy Hello Magazine