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The windows contain images of 16 people, who were important in the history of the Christian church.
There are four large windows on the north side of the Chapel and four on the south side. Each window contains two male historical figures framed by archways, with scenes relating to their lives as backgrounds.
The College was founded in 1584 by Walter Mildmay, a puritan, and many of its early students were also puritans. Puritans were people who disagreed with the established church, (the Church of England), about church teaching and worship.
They demanded simplification and called for greater strictness in religious discipline; they regarded themselves as being more godly than other Christians.
The windows were made at the request of the College, by Heaton, Butler & Bayne of London, a firm, which specialised in making stained glass. The designs were chosen by the Reverend Fenton Hort, who became a clergyman after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge a Fellow (lecturer) of Emmanuel College in 1872, the Hulsean Professor of Divinity in 1878, and in 1887, Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity, teaching in Cambridge for most of his life.
They were installed to add decoration and colour where there had previously been clear glass. The Chapel was built in 1677 in the plain “Classical” style fashionable at the time. The architect was Christopher Wren, one of the most famous English architects of all time. The stained glass put in in 1884 is a very good example of the Victorian taste for rich decoration of churches and chapels in the style called “gothic revival”, which looked back to the medieval period for its inspiration. The windows are therefore interesting examples of Victorian church art.
Are there links to current religious practices or a modern equivalent?
The Chapel is still used as a place of worship today and is also a tourist attraction, although the windows are only one of many interesting things it contains.
The windows contain images of 16 people, who were important in the history of the Christian church. They were chosen to show the continuity of the church through many centuries.
Half of the windows show early church scholars and teachers: Origen, John Eriugena, St Anselm, St Augustine of Hippo, John Fisher, Thomas Cranmer, John Colet and William Tyndale. Some of them were saints and martyrs, including one Protestant martyr and one Roman Catholic one. A martyr is a person who was killed for holding religious beliefs, which went against the established church of their day.
The remaining windows depict important churchmen, who were at Emmanuel: Laurence Chaderton, John Harvard, Benjamin Whichcote, Peter Sterry, William Bedell, William Sancroft, John Smith and William Law. The College was founded in 1584 by Walter Mildmay, a puritan and many of its early students were also puritans. Puritans were people who disagreed with the established church, (the Church of England), about church teaching and worship. They demanded simplification and called for greater strictness in religious discipline; they regarded themselves as being more godly than other Christians. By the mid-1600s the puritan movement was in decline and Emmanuel’s most famous churchmen from then on were members of the established church, one of them going on to become Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important churchman in the country, (his name was William Sancroft and he is shown in one of the windows). Examples of both puritan and non-puritan Emmanuel churchmen are depicted in the windows.
This reveals the close ties between university education and religion in the 1600s and the following centuries. The earliest colleges in Cambridge were monastic, the puritan movement led to the foundation of others such as Sidney Sussex, St Catherine’s College and Christ’s College. Many colleges have religious names: Jesus, St John’s, Trinity, Magdalene, and Corpus Christi. However, Churchill College was founded without any specific religious mission, and the chapel there was not part of the original foundation of the College.
The College website has a section on the Chapel including images and descriptions of all the windows.
The College has produced an illustrated booklet entitled which is available at the Porter’s Lodge, Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
Bendall, Brooke and Collinson
1999, Boydell Press
Contains much useful information about the Emmanuel men depicted in the windows and their place in church history
The College Chapel can be visited by appointment.