warley hospital | the essex county lunatic asylum
Last update: 23|08|10
Warley Hospital

chapel #1
general orientation

General view of the chapel

Chapel #1 from the 1853 plan (coloured)

chapel #1
detailed pictures

The chapel was built in grey stone blocks thus differentiating it from the other buildings of the original asylum block. Further differentiation was achieved by the use of arched windows although only the east and west windows were fitted with stone tracery.

The chapel was divided into an upper floor for worship with the ground floor used as the recreation room (an early design idiom which could also be found at Nottingham and other locations). This division quickly proved unsatisfactory and constrictive: the chapel’s function was replaced by a new, larger, purpose built chapel in 1899, and the old chapel space was used as a library before becoming a ward.

Internally the chapel was divided into a central nave with two different length aisles. Separate doors for the male and female halves of the asylum entered at the base of each aisle. An additional door in the northern aisle terminated in a small tower (which was gutted). There was no apse.

A mezzanine floor was also constructed at some point but this had been removed (leaving stone supports and different wall colours as the only remaining evidence).

chapel: exterior: view north
The chapel dominates the western side the asylum buildings. Its central location, position relative to the wards either side of it, height and different coloured stone all mark it as the main feature at the back of the hospital.

stairway towards the chapel
The ground floor was originally used as the recreation hall so patients had to take two steps of stairs (one for each side of the asylum) from the curved corridors up to the first floor of the chapel.

looking north west into the chapel from the southern entrance
A while painted corridor eventually led to the back of one of the aisles.

chapel: view south east
The chapel was completely stripped and nothing remained except the building’s fabric. It was divided by pillars and decorated arches into a nave and two aisles.

detail of stone carving
The bases of many of the arches were decorated by elegant stone carvings.

chapel: view south west
Wall colours and markings suggested an additional floor was added to the chapel at some point over its lifetime.

detail of stone carving

south western corner of chapel
The general lack of decoration (with one window completely bricked up) hinted that the chapel had been out of use for a significant period.

detail of stone carvings

chapel: view north
This northern view across the chapel includes the second door which led to the other side of the asylum.

detail of stone carvings
Most of the arches terminated in carved headstops which matched the medieval theme used in the entrance to the Administration Block and the exteriors. Note the stone support further up which was used for another feature which has since been removed.

chapel: view north
Another view north across the chapel reveals the door to the small tower on its northern side. This probably gave access to the floor above but was now completely stripped and empty.

damaged stone carving
No all the carvings had survived completely unblemished.

chapel: view south
It was difficult getting a clear shot of the interior of the chapel. Despite being a large, empty space, most of the views across the room were obscured by the heavy columns supporting the arches which formed the divisions of the nave and the aisles.

detail of stone carving
Further evidence could be found of supports for an additional floor or feature.

chapel: view south
A large arch enclosed a small area in the south western corner of the chapel.

chapel: view south east
This shot across the chapel's nave reveals the door to the southern half of the asylum.

chape: view north east
Whilst this shot is from the opposite corner. It is also across the nave but reveals the door to the northern half of the asylum.

stairway from northern entrance
And this well illuminated stairway led downwards to the northern half of the asylum complex.

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