While the material existence of the Chapel can be attributed almost solely to the generosity of Cecil Oliverson, a wealthy London merchant, the need for the Chapel was central to the understanding of an Anglican School as expressed by the first Church of England appointed Headmaster, the Rev’d Percy Umfreville Henn. For Henn it was the very essence of the English Public School tradition and central to his own philosophy of Church education.
The Chapel was designed by Mr Walter Tapper, later Sir Walter, a prominent English architect; its construction supervised by Michael Tapper, his son. Work commenced on the Chapel in March, 1912 with the Foundation Stone being laid on 5 July, 1912, then the Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Chapel was consecrated on March 25, 1914. This date is celebrated annually as ‘Lady Day’, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the School community remembers its Founders and the significance of the day in its history.
The Chapel is designed on purely Gothic principles, reverting thereby to the features of collegiate chapels of medieval times. The nave is 25 metres long and 9 metres wide, while the crown of the vault stands 16 metres above the floor of the nave. The seats in the nave are arranged in the traditional collegiate manner, the stalls facing each other. Above the stalls runs a ‘monk’s walk’; in medieval times, the monks used to descend from their living quarters to their place of worship by means of such passageways. The stone used in the building is a sandstone from Donnybrook in the south of Western Australia. The floor is of marble from Italy and Belgium, while the woodwork is hand-carved oak worked by English craftsmen, specially brought out to Western Australia. The chapel itself stands 21 metres in height and boasts a reredos unequalled in beauty in Australia. With its blaze of blue and gold, it is one of the most striking features of the chapel. The main framework is of wood, heavily carved, gilded and painted. The panels, representing the lives of our Lord, our Lady and St. George, are painted in tempera, a mixture of yolks of eggs and other materials on a background of wood.
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