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Roman Catholic Chapel of St Edmund's College, Cloister and Scholefield Chantry

A Grade I Listed Building in Standon, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8808 / 51°52'51"N

Longitude: -0.0084 / 0°0'30"W

OS Eastings: 537181

OS Northings: 222126

OS Grid: TL371221

Mapcode National: GBR K9V.4P2

Mapcode Global: VHGP3.SZXJ

Plus Code: 9C3XVXJR+8J

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Chapel of St Edmund's College, Cloister and Scholefield Chantry

Listing Date: 24 January 1967

Last Amended: 3 October 2016

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1308305

English Heritage Legacy ID: 161027

Location: Standon, East Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire, SG11

County: Hertfordshire

District: East Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Standon

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Standon

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

Tagged with: Chapel

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St Edmund’s College Chapel by A W N Pugin, built between 1845 and 1853 and completed the year after his death. It has additions by E W Pugin (1861 and 1862) and F A Walters (1904 and 1922). The interior includes the rood which was the centrepiece of Pugin’s stand at the Great Exhibition, and stained glass by Hardman, and by Lavers and Westlake.


St Edmund’s College Chapel is a major work by A W N Pugin, built between 1845 and 1853 and completed the year after his death. It has notable additions by E W Pugin (1861 and 1862) and F A Walters (1904 and 1922). The interior includes the rood which was the centrepiece of Pugin’s stand at the Great Exhibition, and stained glass by Hardman, and by Lavers and Westlake.

MATERIALS: the main body of the church is in pale brown brick, with ashlar stone dressings, all beneath a slate roof. The Scholefield chapel is in rich honey brick with scalloped slate roof.

PLAN: the chapel is accessed from the north end of the College by a long cloister referred to as ‘Monuments Lane’. On axis with it is the Scholefield Chantry. The Pugin building is T plan, with a transeptal antechapel at west, accessed from the cloister via the south transept. The Griffiths Chantry is to the right on entry to the antechapel. The main chapel, to east, consists of a choir and sanctuary, and is accessed from the antechapel via a two bay rood screen. The north transept gives access to a sacristy at north, and the Lady Chapel at east. The Shrine Chapel (in the base of the intended tower) is accessed at north from the Lady Chapel. To west, accessed from the antechapel, is the Galilee Chapel.

EXTERIOR: the original Pugin chapel has gabled transepts to the west, lit by a large wheel window to the south with elaborate foiled tracery. The choir has five bays of high Geometrical, three-light windows between gabled buttresses with offsets. The central buttress in the eastern bay has a statue of St Edmund in a niche, beneath a seven-light East window with curvilinear tracery. To south, the Scholefield Chapel is described in the original List description as being ‘designed like a C13 shrine casket’. It is built in buff brick and stone with hipped scalloped slate roof, elaborate openwork parapet and finials, and is located on axis with the cloister (Monument Lane), on the south side of the main chapel. The Lady Chapel is located parallel on the north side in materials matching the main chapel. The five-bay Shrine Chapel sits perpendicular to the Lady Chapel, in the position originally intended for the projected north tower and spire and is in materials matching the main chapel, having a variety of Decorated two-light windows. The twin-nave Galilee Chapel extends west from the antechapel. It is faced with Bath stone externally, and is lit by wide three-light C15 style windows.



The chapel is approached via a small cloister or walkway, known as ‘Monuments Lane’. This contains monuments to various Vicars Apostolic, of whom six are buried here - Bonaventure Giffard, Andrew Giffard, Benjamin Petre, James Talbot, James Bramston and Robert Gradwell. There are monuments to these and other Vicars Apostolic, buried here and in the chapel, and to notable Edmundians, including the Rev. Thomas Byles, who died on RMS Titanic.

A W N Pugin chapel

The antechapel has Decorated columns with foliate capitals. Within this space is the enclosed Griffiths Chantry, or St Thomas’ Chapel, with the monument and tomb of Bishop Griffiths (d.1847), by Augustus Welby Pugin. Originally intended as the Lady Chapel, the stone altar has roundels depicting the Annunciation and in the reredos, a figure of St Thomas of Canterbury sits under a canopy. The original windows of the chapel were destroyed in 1941 and replaced in 1950. The Stations of the Cross on the west wall of the antechapel are painted scenes on a mahogany backing, framed in alabaster; they were given in 1898 by Mgr. Fenton, a past President of the College.

There is a wheel window on the south side of the antechapel and four large windows in the west wall. The wheel window depicts the Madonna and Child surrounded by angels, and was given in 1899. The four west windows are in memory of past Presidents of the College:
(i) Opposite the Griffiths Chantry, to Canon George Akers (d.1899), by Hardman; it depicts the Assumption of Our Lady flanked by St George and St Andrew;
(ii) The Weathers window (opposite the tomb of Bishop William Weathers, d.1895) was erected by public subscription in 1897 and is by Lavers & Westlake; it depicts St Bede, St Leo the Great and St Thomas Aquinas, with scenes depicting Bishop Weathers’ patrons below;
(iii) The Rymer window is opposite the tomb of Fr Frederick Rymer (d.1910), and was given by Fr. Rymer in 1900. Also by Lavers & Westlake, it depicts St Joseph, Our Lord and St Francis de Sales above and St Agnes, Our Lady and St Aloysius below;
(iv) The Fenton window was presented by Bishop Patrick Fenton in 1903 to commemorate the golden jubilee of the opening of the chapel. It is by Lavers & Westlake and depicts St John the Baptist, St Patrick, St Joseph and St Augustine; a portrait of Bishop Fenton is included amongst the scenes below.

The main chapel, or choir, is entered through an elaborate, Early English seven-bay wide and two-bay deep rood screen or pulpitum, of Caen stone, with cusped tracery and quatrefoil medallions in the spandrels. Above, the rood is of painted oak, with flanking figures of St John and Our Lady in painted pinewood. The rood was the centrepiece of Pugin’s display at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Within the screen are two altars, now dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, with stained glass figures of saints in the tracery above.

The choir measures approximately 24.5m by 9m. It has an arch-braced open timber roof, and a coffered timber pointed barrel vault to the two-bay sanctuary (painted with monograms by Alfred White, with assistance from John Virtue, in 1848-49). Pugin’s high altar and reredos are of white stone, with four slender marble pillars at the outside supporting the reredos. The richly carved altar frontal has roundels of Christ in Majesty flanked by Melchisedech and Abraham. The stone tabernacle has brass doors with crystal bosses, and is incorporated within a pinnacled monstrance throne, surmounted by angels and a pelican in her piety. The reredos has statues of angels in the niches and a Crucifixion in relief over the tabernacle. The sanctuary walls were panelled in oak and the floor covered in inlaid parquetry in 1934, to mark Cardinal Bourne’s sacerdotal golden jubilee.

On either side of the choir are three rows of oak stalls with tracery panelled fronts, the back row with a high coved canopy with brattishing. The central space is paved with red, blue and yellow encaustic tiles, and is dominated by a large brass eagle lectern.

Stained glass

The seven-light east window depicts two rows of figures, with Christ above and St Edmund below in the central lights. Made by Hardman from Pugin’s designs, it dates from 1847-48. The two windows on each side of the sanctuary represent scenes from the life of St Edmund. Three were installed in 1869 from designs by Hardman. A fourth, made by Mayer from designs by A E Purdie in 1884, was destroyed in 1941 and replaced by the current window in 1952. The choir windows commemorate the history of the college. On the south side, the first (from the east) is the Presidents’ window, a 1951 replacement for an 1861 Hardman window destroyed in wartime. Next to this, the Ward window dates from 1883 and is by Hardman; it depicts King David, St Peter and St Paul. Finally, the Crimea Window is also a 1951 replacement of a Hardman window of 1857. On the north side, the first choir bay from the east is the English Martyrs’ window, erected in 1887 to commemorate the beatification of 54 English martyrs, by Lavers & Westlake. Next to this, the Founders’ window is by Hardman and was put up in 1893 to mark the centenary of the College; it commemorates Bishops Douglass, Stapleton and Poynter. Finally, the Douai window is also by Hardman and dated 1893, and includes images of the colleges at Douai and Old Hall.

Lady Chapel

The Lady Chapel is reached via a stone screen in the north transept of the main chapel. Here there is a relocated statue of the Madonna and Child carved by Thomas Earp, originally presented in 1853. The chapel has a two-bay ribbed vault supported by eight pillars with marble shafts, with gilded capitals. The altar frontal has three stubby columns and roundels depicting the Adoration of the Magi and the Flight into Egypt. The tabernacle is of alabaster, its brass door depicting a pelican. Over the altar is a crocketed aedicule, its tympanum carved with a representation of the Holy Family attended by St John the Baptist and an angel. All is highly polychromatic, doubtless in part to make up for the absence of stained glass windows.

Scholefield Chantry

Inside, it is raised on four steps, over the Scholefield vault. The walls and groin vaulted roof are entirely of stone, all richly carved and detailed. The floor is laid with encaustic tiles. The altar frontal has a high relief panel depicting the Crucifixion flanked by black marble columns. Similar columns support the triple canopy of the reredos, in which recess is a carved depiction of the Ascension. Above is a window of five lights.

Shrine Chapel

Built in 1904, this is reached via the Lady Chapel. The centrepiece of the space is the vividly painted Bath stone reredos, with a central recess over the altar housing the fibula of the left leg of St Edmund, in a cylinder of ruby glass in an elaborate brass setting. The compartments of the timber boarded ceiling are painted with shields. Above the sacristy door in the west wall is a triptych depicting St Edmund and other saints, by Augusto Stoppoloni, presented by Cardinal Vaughan. The stained glass (four windows on the north side and two on the south sides) depict scenes from the life of St Edmund and scenes relating to the story of the relic, by Lavers & Westlake (various dates 1905-08).

Galilee Chapel

This is located to the west of the antechapel, from which it is reached by a pair of oak doors. The chapel is faced with Bath stone both internally and externally, and is lit by wide three-light fifteenth-century style windows. The two naves are divided by a central arcade. The roof is of Columbian pinewood, arched and panelled. The altar is of carved alabaster, with a painted triptych above depicting Our Lady of Pity flanked by St Peter and St George. This looks like the work of Nathaniel Westlake. Before the altar is the tomb of Cardinal Bourne (d.1935), his cardinal’s hat hanging above. The windows in the eastern bay of the chapel were installed in 1936 as a memorial to Bourne.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 30 October 2017.


St Edmund's College succeeds Cardinal William Allen’s seminary and college, founded at Douai in Flanders in 1568. This had been established for the training of English priests during the period of Elizabethan persecution, but also became a school for Catholic English boys. Many of its students, both priests and laymen, returned to England and were put to death under the anti-Catholic laws of the time; alumni include twenty canonised and 133 beatified martyrs. The college at Douai was closed in the wake of the French Revolution and the staff and students returned to England, where the penal laws had by then been considerably relaxed. They joined the students at the Old Hall Green Academy, who had moved there in 1769 (having before that been at Twyford, near Winchester, until 1745 and at Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire, from 1749-69).

The new college was instituted on 16 November 1793, the feast of St Edmund of Canterbury. This was the first Catholic seminary to be restored in England, that at Ushaw, County Durham, following two years later. A gift of £10,000 from a Hampshire Catholic named John Sone allowed substantial new college buildings to be built, from designs by James Taylor of Islington, a former pupil at the Old Hall Green Academy (previously located in the C17 Old Hall, which survives at the western boundary of the site). This rebuilding is described in The Buildings of England as an enterprise ‘comparable in scale only with college work at Oxford and Cambridge, but far exceeding what English public schools did at that time’.

In 1844 Bishop Thomas Griffiths, Vicar Apostolic of the London District, commissioned A W N Pugin to draw up plans for a new College chapel – this would be Gothic, and a striking contrast to Taylor’s chaste classical design, which Pugin loathed (describing it as a ‘priest factory’). Pugin’s builder, George Myers, was entrusted with the construction; the foundation stone was laid on 28 October 1845 and the completed chapel (the projected tower and spire were not built) was consecrated by Cardinal Wiseman on 16 May 1853, the period of construction having seen the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy. Neither Pugin nor Bishop Griffiths lived to see the completion of their project.

The chapel has been added to and adorned over the years. The most significant phases include the addition of the Lady Chapel in 1861 by E W Pugin, with carved decoration by Thomas Earp. This was intended as the base of a future tower. In 1862 the Scholefield Chantry Chapel was added again to the designs of E W Pugin, financed by Jane Scholefield in memory of her husband Edward who is buried in the vault.

In 1869 Archbishop Manning established a new diocesan seminary at Hammersmith, and for a while the college ceased to be a theological college. In 1874 the junior boys were separated from the rest of the school, and St Hugh’s Preparatory School was established (now St Edmund's Preparatory School). In 1904 Archbishop Bourne brought the diocesan seminarians back to Old Hall Green and a new wing (Allen Hall) was built to house them.

The Shrine Chapel was added in 1904, designed by F A Walters, commemorating the golden jubilee of Pugin’s chapel, and accommodating a relic of St Edmund which had been presented by Cardinal Wiseman in 1853. In 1922 the Galilee Chapel was built as a thanksgiving and war memorial chapel by Cardinal Francis Bourne (1861-1935), who is buried within, also to designs by F A Walters.

In 1941 a landmine exploded near the chapel, and several stained glass windows were destroyed. In 1975 the seminarians again departed, this time to Chelsea, where they have remained (retaining the name of Allen Hall). The school remains in use, and is now a coeducational establishment.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Chapel of St Edmund's College, Cloister and Scholefield Chantry, 1845-53, by AWN Pugin, with later additions of note, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: as a fine and intact example of the late work of A W N Pugin, the premier architect and designer of the Gothic Revival in England. The Chapel is an exceptional example and highly representative of Pugin’s mature style, a highly accomplished design based on the T-shaped Oxford college chapel plan, complemented by detailing of consistently high quality which demonstrates Pugin’s highly developed understanding of Gothic forms. It is an important building in the context of understanding Pugin’s work;

* Plan form: the layout, comprising antechapel, long choir and side chapels, conforms to a well-established medieval precedent, which is relatively unusual in the wider context of C19 revival architecture, but which is consistent with the academic setting;

* Degree of survival: the liturgical plan and principal furnishings remain virtually intact throughout, while sympathetic additions, of considerable note in their own right, include fine side chapels by E W Pugin and F A Walters, both ecclesiastical architects of some repute;

* Furnishings: the fixtures and fittings are of exceptionally high quality throughout, including a particularly fine and rare surviving rood screen, original decorative finishes, and high quality stained glass by Hardman. The side chapels also contain decorative works of the highest craftsmanship in paint, stone and glass;

* Historical interest: as the religious locus of St Edmund’s College, itself an important complex in the context of Catholic heritage in England, as a successor institution to the English College at Douai;

* Group value: for its close historical and spatial relationship with the whole of the St Edmund's College complex, including the main school buildings (1795-9; listed Grade II, NHLE 1102394), the Junior House (1630 and 1759; listed Grade II, NHLE 1102356), The Hermitage (C17; listed Grade II, NHLE 1175588), Gymnasium (1818; listed Grade II, NHLE 1175667), and various garden structures.

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