Amherst Chapel Pews Appeal!
We are raising funds to replace the blue chairs in our beloved chapel with traditional church pews. Thanks to the generosity of our supporter community, we have raised an incredible £1,500! We are well on the way to reaching our goal of raising £3,500 to provide 38 pews to accommodate our ever-expanding community for collective worship and celebration.
The reason for replacing chairs with pews is both practical and aesthetic.
In the last seven years, Amherst has grown by 75%. Whilst wonderful, this has left us struggling to fit everyone into the chapel. At present, when we all gather in the chapel, our youngest pupils sit on the floor. It would be sad if we became unable to gather as a whole school in the natural spiritual heart of our community. So, our main reason for returning to pews is to ensure that the chapel remains the true heart of our school.
"We’re excited to bring pews back to the Chapel. We like being altogether in our lovely Chapel, but it will be nice to be able to see what is happening every time we go in. We really like the idea of being able to personalise the space with special cushions and kneelers."
The aesthetic importance of pews
Our chapel is a beautiful space designed by Charles Hansom and built between 1863-64. Hansom took his inspiration from Augustus Pugin, who famously designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster and its iconic clock tower which houses Big Ben. Like Pugin, Hansom was a master of the mid-Victorian neo-Gothic style, and the chapel is a perfect example of his restrained and sensitive work. It is, quite simply, a place of unusual peace and spiritual resonance. This beautiful space deserves seating that complements its architectural style. Interestingly, Hansom’s older brother Joseph worked closely with Pugin before he died in 1856, so it is likely that Charles and Pugin knew each other.
Pugin and the Amhersts of Kenilworth
Curiously, Pugin also knew our namesake, Mary Amherst. At the start of his career, Pugin would travel up to the Midlands where some of his clients lived, including Mrs Amherst of Fieldgate House, Kenilworth, for whom he later built St Augustine’s Church, Kenilworth. Pugin and the Amherst family visited Kenilworth Castle, the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott’s historic novel Kenilworth. Scott’s historical novels had a significant effect on British culture in the first half of the 19th century. The young Queen Victoria (tutored by LGS alumnus, Bishop Davys) and Prince Albert were fans, and they were also interested in gothic design. Scott’s novels fuelled Pugin’s interest in medieval gothic design and chivalry. Pugin’s life became intwined with the Amhersts of Kenilworth and in 1844 he became secretly engaged to Mrs Amherst’s daughter Mary, but the relationship ended in 1846 when Mary decided to become a nun.
In 1850, Mary Amherst generously gave her dowry to help Lady Mary Arundell establish Our Lady’s Convent School. Today, the school is called Loughborough Amherst School in recognition of her generosity 173 years ago.
What will happen to the chairs?
The blue chairs, many of which were kindly donated by past pupils and their families, will be moved to our Main Hall for use at events such as Prize Giving and drama productions. Some of the chairs were donated in loving memory of members of our community. The dedication plaques from these chairs will be displayed in the chapel, so that the memory of these OLCS alumnae will remain visible at the spiritual heart of our community.
If you have any questions about the appeal, please get in touch.
How can you help?
Every pew is a team effort and gifts of all sizes make a difference. When lots of people give together, collectively we can achieve our goal. Every pound you donate will directly support second-hand pews, helping to bring our community together for collective worship and celebration.
If you can, please make your donation today: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/22344#!/DonationDetails