Considering that the College was founded in 1843 with the prime purpose of educating the sons of Clergy, it is of no surprise that the construction of a Chapel was an early priority.
The first Chapel, designed by Edward Blore (1787-1879), was opened in 1848 to accommodate 500 boys. It was, however, a rather plain building and by 1880 the College community had, in any case, grown to over 600.
An initial scheme of enlargement by lengthening the walls and raising their height had to be abandoned when it was discovered that Blore’s foundations were insufficiently strong to bear the extra weight and the decision was taken to salvage everything possible before Blore’s Chapel was completely demolished in 1884.
The chapel, measuring 154 feet long, 54 feet wide and 60 feet high, is fashioned in the Late Decorated Gothic style.
Amongst its noteworthy architectural features are the apsidal form of the East end and the strikingly large reredos in the Anglo-Catholic style, which was gilded much later, in 1951, by Sir Ninian Comper at the same time as he painted the inside of the apse.
Bodley & Garner’s colour scheme of greens and browns, much loved by John Betjeman, dominates the Chapel interior, together with a series of 12 large murals by the late Pre-Raphaelite Spencer Stanhope. These depict Biblical scenes involving angels, six on the north side from the Old Testament and a like number on the south from the New.
Other artistic features of note are the Scholars’ Window on the south side (a green window featuring the boys Samuel and Timothy which was designed by Burne-Jones and made under the direction of William Morris) and Eric Gill`s sculpture of “The Virgin and Child” above the outside of the West Door.
Always kept in mind is the fact that pupils, and indeed the entire Marlborough Community, are of specific faiths and of no faiths, but that all are on a spiritual pilgrimage towards an ever-deepening self-awareness of who they are and of their place in the Universe. Chapel plays a large part in this spiritual journey. Services are ‘gently Anglican’ and highlight the very best of that Christian tradition with its emphasis on inclusivity.
Significant feasts of the Church are celebrated such as Ascension Day, as well as Ash Wednesday and Passiontide. The services of Lessons and Carols are particular favourites of the Marlborough Community.
Every year, Confirmation classes are held in the Lent Term and the Confirmation service itself, officiated by a visiting Bishop from the Diocese of Salisbury, is held in April. Roman Catholic pupils are prepared for Confirmation by Father John Blacker and their service is in May.
Many Marlburians become heavily involved in the life of the Chapel in a variety of ways, from being a Sacristan through to singing in the Chapel Choir.
An added feature of the Chapel and the Chaplaincy is to provide a moment and a place of stillness in the hectic life of a full boarding school. House Communions are popular occasions and pupils note the sense of peace that they bring.
Senior Chaplain – Revd T W G Novis BA MDiv
“Offering liberal measures of unconditional positive regard, my calling is to teach and nourish self-compassion and to point where spirituality, deep humanity and community are found in the heart, home, classroom and office.”
The Senior Chaplain – The Revd T W G Novis – is available at all times to listen to pupils and staff who have a particular concern to share.
He offers preparation for Baptism for those who wish it and Confirmation for those who choose it.
He works with the Catholic Chaplain and Catholic pupils to provide regular celebrations of the Mass.
He advises those of other faiths and helps make provision for the maintenance of those faiths.
He celebrates marriages for staff and Old Marlburians and Services of Thanksgiving for those who have entered the life of eternity.
He is a tutor in Cotton House and is a member of the Board of Governors of Preshute Primary School, and participates widely in the extra-curricular life of the school and the Marlborough Community.
Assistant Chaplain – Revd Dr J Blokland BA MA MSc PhD
The Revd Dr Janneke Blokland started as Assistant Chaplain at Marlborough College after finishing her Curacy in the Marlborough Anglican Team in 2017, preceded by ordination training at Westcott House in Cambridge.
Her background is both in physics, having completed a PhD in semiconductor physics and the High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Nijmegen, as well as philosophy and theology, resulting in an MA from the University of Nottingham.
Aside from these academic interests, she has an active role in the pastoral life of the College, being a tutor both in Mill Mead and New Court. Her links with the local Marlborough community have remained, as she continues as a governor at the newly formed Marlborough St Mary’s Primary School, and as treasure of the Marlborough Area Poverty Action Group. She is also Chaplain to the Town Mayor, and aspires to use these connections to further strengthen the links between Marlborough College and the Town.
Roman Catholic Chaplain – Father John Blacker