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News > Huyton College > We Dreamed a Dream..........

We Dreamed a Dream..........

The Story of the Huyton College Chapel
Huyton College Chapel in 1978
Huyton College Chapel in 1978

“We must dream a dream, and we must dream it until it is not a dream.”

Miss Anthony – Distribution of School Certificates Ceremony – November 1925

The idea of a School Chapel was first thought of at the Old Girls’ Reunion in June 1914.  A Chapel Committee was set up, chaired by Mr John Stone, a friend and benefactor of the school.  Unfortunately, WW1 then intervened and very quickly everything had to be put on hold until November 1918 when the war ended. Fundraising then gathered pace with donations from parents, Old Girls and friends of the school.  The pupils themselves worked tirelessly to raise money in many different ways - concerts, plays, dances, sales of work, fairs. On 4th July 1925, a ‘Merrie England through the Ages’ fair was held where the whole school was in fancy dress costume with each form depicting a period in English history.  It raised £686 (over £42,000 today) and a special appeal launched to coincide with the fair, raised a further £776.   The fund increased slowly and, at last, in the Spring of 1926 it was decided that sufficient money had been raised to go ahead with the building.

 School Fair - 4th July 1925

The site for the chapel, an area in the centre of the school between the gymnasium and the boarding houses, had already been identified by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (the architect of Liverpool Cathedral) who had initially been asked to supervise the plans. Mr Walter Brierley from the architectural firm Brierley and Rutherford in York, a friend of Mr Stone’s, was asked to put forward a design on the basis that there was no obligation for the school to accept it. He was very enthusiastic about the project and his design found favour with the school.  Spring 1926 saw the ‘cutting of the first sod’ ceremony on 16th March which Mr Brierley attended.  Sadly, he died in August of that year so never saw the completed building.

The Foundation Stone was laid on 24th July 1926 and a lengthy service was conducted at which the school hymn ‘Jerusalem’ was sung. I don’t think many Old Huytonians can ever hear ‘Jerusalem’ without being taken back to the end of the school year Chapel services and experiencing a lump in the throat! Annie Turton, one of the original sixteen pupils when the school opened had written a history of the school  which was put in a bottle and laid in a cavity under the Foundation Stone.  The collection at the service raised the fantastic sum of £974 (over £60,000 today) which was a considerable help to the appeal fund.

The Foundation Stone

The fundraising continued and in 1927 Miss Anthony and her sister produced a calendar which had a different original quotation for every day of the year.  This was sold and produced £129/14s/6d for the Chapel Fund.

Once completed, the Chapel was dedicated to the Good Shepherd on 9th July 1927 (strangely 9th July was also the date that Huyton College was to close in 1993). The service was conducted by the Lord Bishop of Liverpool, The Rt. Rev. A. A. David.

 

Procession prior to the Service

Reception of the Bishop at the Chapel Door

Service of Dedication - 9th July 1927

THE BUILDING

The design of the building had a basis in Early English Gothic architecture with its vaulted roof, ribbed with oak, and deeply recessed lancet windows in arched recesses but the overall feel of the interior was modern by 1920s standards, light and spacious with an uncluttered simplicity. The exterior of the building was covered with hand-made close kiln bricks and the roof was covered with red Lombardic tiles.

Chapel Interior and The East Window

There was a small side chapel (the Lady Chapel) dedicated to the Old Girls. Mr Brierley also drew plans for a narthex to link the Chapel to the gymnasium and for cloisters on the south side extending as far as St Hilda’s, the first boarding house, so that the Chapel could be completely enclosed within the school.  The intention was that this work could be carried out later if there were sufficient funds but this was never done.

Canon Donald Gray with a group of 6th Formers in the Lady Chapel 1990/91

In 1990, Christine Bradley, who was at that time the Deputy Headmistress, had correspondence with Gallery Lingard, architectural historians, who were exhibiting watercolours and drawings by the renowned architectural artist Cyril Farey (1888-1954). One of the watercolours in the exhibition (No103) is listed as Perspective of the Chapel for Liverpool Girls’ College, to the design of W H Brierley (1862-1926) and J H Rutherford (1874-1946) 1926. Unfortunately, the school was unwilling or, more likely, unable to purchase it.  It appears, from an internet search, to have last been sold for $277 in 2019.

SCHOOL CHAPLAINS

The first Chaplain of Liverpool College, Huyton, was Archdeacon George John Howson who served from 1926 to 1935. He was the son of John Howson, Principal of Liverpool College 1849-1865, and an Old Lerpoolian.  He conducted the first Holy Communion Service in the Chapel on Sunday 10th July and later that day the first Evensong service.

Archdeacon George John Howson

Subsequent Chaplains were:-                    

Canon Bezzant (1935-1936)

Bishop Gresford Jones (1936-1943)

Canon Reeves  (1943-1949)

Canon Urwin  (1949-1952)                        

Rev R. Nelson (1952-1958)

Canon Pepys (1958-1964)

Rev Ramsay Pickard (1964-1968)

Canon Urwin (1968-1972)

Canon Young (1972-1973)

Canon Gray (1974-1987)

Canon Frayling (1987-1993)

THE STAINED-GLASS WINDOWS

The East Te Deum Window was the work of Frederick Charles Eden (1864-1944).   The three lancet light windows showed the saints of the six houses. St Mary is in the centre and below and on either side are St Catherine of Alexandria (intellect); St Hilda (organisation and administration); St Margaret of Scotland (ideal domesticity); St Elizabeth (love and service); St Joan of Arc (truth). Above and below the saints are winged angels holding musical instruments.

At the west end, south side of the Chapel was a two-light window which depicted Sir Percival and Sir Galahad.  It had the inscriptions “Sir Percival, mightiest and purest among men” and “I saw the Holy Grail and in the strength of this I rode shattering all evil customs everywhere.” This window was the work of Joan Howson (1885-1964), the daughter of Archdeacon Howson and granddaughter of John Howson. She trained at Liverpool School of Art and was a stained-glass artist of the Arts and Crafts movement.  She was first apprentice to, and then partner of, Caroline Townshend, creating stained glass works as Townshend and Howson.

Sir Percival and Sir Galahad Windows - Photograph courtesy of Old Huytonian Sue Shaw

Evelyn Alys Pierce had been Head Girl at the school and had gained an open Classical Exhibition to Girton College, Cambridge in 1921 winning the School University Scholarship. Tragically, she was killed in her second year at Girton in 1924 when she died a month after being knocked down by a motor cyclist. Writing Evelyn’s ‘In Memoriam’ in the 1925 School magazine, Miss Anthony stated “At the Old Girls’ Reunion last July, it was decided to place a stained-glass window in our school chapel in memory of Evelyn.  Nothing seemed to us so fitting, as there was a touch of radiance in her clearness of vision, and even from childhood her face was turned to the light.” The window depicted Jesus on a green cross which represented a living tree, from the leaves of which comes “the healing of the Nations”.

Window dedicated to the Memory of Evelyn Pierce

Evelyn Pierce standing behind Miss Lees outside the Fernwood Entrance

Elizabeth Ann Atkins, died on 3rd August 1950. There was a window dedicated to her memory in the Old Girls Chapel which was a gift from St Hilda’s House, Elizabeth’s parents and friends. It is the work of Joan Howson’s assistant and portrays the Good Shepherd and The Light of the World. Elizabeth started at Rydal in 1942 and was a member of St Hilda’s House at Huyton from 1946 to 1950. She was a House Prefect and House Swimming Captain in her last year at school.  She was intending to begin a secretarial course and then go on to train as a physiotherapist but sadly she died suddenly of infant paralysis (probably polio).

Elizabeth Ann Atkins Memorial Window

The St Bride’s Window was donated by St Brides House and the friends of Naomi Beavis who was the first House Mistress of St Bride’s (1946-1952). The window depicts the consecration of St Bride and her friends by Bishop MacCaille. It is the work of James Powell and Sons, Whitefriars Glass of Wealdstone, who also made the East and Choir windows in Liverpool Cathedral and a window in Huyton Parish Church.

Naomi Beavis

 

THE REREDOS

In 1957 an oak reredos for the Chapel was designed by a Mr Butler and installed with the inscription “To remember with thankfulness Gertrude Anthony, Headmistress 1899-1935, and the School’s first fifty years 1894-1944.”  Originally this was unpainted but very quickly, it was decided that it would look more beautiful with colour and was painted in the autumn term of 1958.

1957 Oak Reredos Wood Carving

In 1977 a new reredos was installed as part of the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Hallowing of the Chapel.  The school commissioned Peter Pelz, well known for his church paintings, to paint a triptych behind the altar.  On the outside it featured the Parable of the Lost Sheep and opened up to reveal a Transfiguration scene. The other scenes depicted were very personal to the school showing the buildings and the daily life of the girls.  The Saints of the four Houses – St Hilda’s, St Mary’s, St Margaret’s and St Clare’s - are shown on the side panels.

THE ORGAN

The original organ was donated by Mr John Stone in 1928. By the early 1950's, it needed to be replaced and a new organ was installed in 1952 and dedicated by Bishop Gresford Jones on November 17th of that year.  This organ had been designed by a parent, Mr Beard (father of pupils Ann and Sheila Beard) who was a Director of Henry Willis & Sons Ltd, Organ Builders. It weighed five and a half tons and this meant that the Chapel gallery had to be supported by two oak pillars so that it could take the weight!

The New Organ 

THE FIXTURES AND FITTINGS

Miss Anthony had made sure that the school was starting to prepare for a School Chapel long before it became a reality.  In 1917, Miss Brown, who was the first form mistress in St Catherine’s had started a church embroidery class.  Their first task was to make the Chapel Offertory bags.

Chapel Offertory Bags found in the Archive - Date Unknown

Girls and staff who were leaving were encouraged to donate a gift for the Chapel instead of a book for the library and many gifts were received from Old Girls. The 1930’s school magazines record that Miss Tocher donated flowers for the Chapel every term; in 1934 a linen altar cloth was given by Miss Fairclough; in 1935, chairs for the Chapel were donated by E Bennet Jones, K Forester, J Garton, J Gibbs, J Husband, P le Fanu, E Pilkington, E Pinnington, G Pullen*, M Upward.  In 1958, a portable font, which had been previously used at the Mersey Mission, was donated by the Old Girls in memory of the aforementioned Annie Turton.  These are a just few examples of many gifts which were received.

Morning and Evening Prayer Books used in the Chapel and Preparation For Holy Communion Book

*Grace Pullen lived to the wonderful age of 101 and her 100th Birthday is featured in the Huyton College Old Girls’ Magazine 2017.  Sadly, she died on 7th October 2017.

CHAPEL READING

The girls were encouraged to do the readings at the services in the Chapel. The Susan Makin-Taylor Chapel Reading Prize was given by Mr and Mrs Makin-Taylor in memory of their daughter, Susan, a pupil at Huyton College, who died of kidney failure at Christmas 1970. Susan had been nursed in the School Sanitorium and her funeral was held in the Chapel.

The prize was awarded to the following Huytonians.                                                   

 Ann Boardman (1971)

 Eileen Fairclough (1971 / 72)

Judith Myers (1972 / 73)

Sarah Finigan (1973 / 74)

Jane Mills (1974 / 75)

Jane Greenwood (1975 / 76)

Diane Higham (1976 / 77)

Jane Harris (1977 / 78)

Karoline Weir (1978 / 79)

Catherine Grundy (1979/80)

Sarah Wright (1980/81)

Amanda George (1981 / 82)

Susan Hamilton (1982 / 83)

Philippa Hayward (1983 / 84)

Elaine Peter (1984 / 85)

Lisa Bose (1985 / 86)

Alison Slater (1986 / 87)

Humaira Sadiq (1987 / 88)

Rachel Baskett (1990)

 Laila Sadiq (1991)

Ruth Prince (1992)

Charlotte O’Neill (1993)

 

Chapel Bible

BBC BROADCAST

in 1947 Miss Potts was invited by the BBC to give a broadcast address on 26th October which was 'Education Sunday'. They wanted this to be recorded in a studio in Manchester. However, Miss Potts insisted that it was broadcast from her usual Sunday Evening service in the School Chapel and, as a result, the whole School Evensong Service including Miss Pott's sermon was broadcast to the nation!

CHAPEL CHOIR

Long before the Chapel was built, the school choir made preparations to become a Chapel choir and was soon flourishing, regularly singing the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis and other sacred music at Sunday evening services.  The Choir was well renowned and there is so much to say about it that it deserves a separate story of its own.

The Chapel became the heart of the school and it still holds a special place in the memories of very many Old Girls, whether religious or not. Unfortunately, the dream came to an end in 1993 when Huyton College closed.

Service of Thanksgiving on the Sunday before Huyton College closed on 9th July 1993

When the College campus was sold off, the Chapel was converted into dwellings.  A number of years ago, the person who was compiling the Wikipedia entry for Joan Howson contacted me to see if I knew what had happened to the Sir Percival and Sir Galahad windows.   I have tried, without success, to discover where they are now.  If anyone has any knowledge of them or any of the other windows, please let me know.  I sincerely hope they did not end up on a builder’s skip!

 

Chapel After Conversion into Dwellings - Photograph courtesy of Old Huytonian Joan Bangor-Jones

Offer for Sale of Chapel Dwelling circa 2015

I have put together this story of the Chapel from information which I have found in the Huyton College Archive.  I am indebted, as always, to ‘A History of Huyton College’ by Eluned M Rees (copies of which can be purchased from The Lerpoolian Shop), Ruth Johnson's book 'The Story of Our Chapel'  and also to Nancy Williams, former School Secretary, for her meticulous preservation of the archive material. (The History of the School by Annie Turton, The Story of Our Chapel by Ruth Johnson and the full Order of Service of The Hallowing of the Chapel will soon be available to view in the Resources section of the website).  However, I should be delighted to receive comments regarding any alterations or additions to the story from those of you who lived through those times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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