Successful appeal for Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability Victorian Assembly Room
Hospital for Incurables Assembly Room circa 1900 showing the original stained glass
The RHN is celebrating the restoration of its beautiful stained glass windows in its Victorian Assembly Room. The original windows, designed in the 1870s, were destroyed in bombing raids in the Second World War.
After the war limited funds meant that the broken windows were replaced with plain glass. In recent years the windows and frames had become too fragile and were boarded up.
Using a single black-and-white archive image of the original windows shown above, Chapel Studio worked with the Heritage of London Trust (who gave a start-up grant) to design new windows in keeping with the originals. The work cost £230k, which was raised in record time entirely through donations from generous individuals and organisations.
The surviving archive image suggested that the original Victorian windows showed stylised versions of the four seasons. Chapel Studio researched the appropriate colours for the glass as well as some of the surviving windows in the hospital. They drew up scaled designs and colours in digital format, before the studio team recreated them using traditional stained glass manufacturing techniques. The Heritage of London Trust advised throughout.
During the project, hospital patients enjoyed art sessions using different stained glass designs as inspiration which were then displayed in an exhibition at the hospital site.
The Assembly Room has been at the heart of the hospital and its community for over 150 years. The foundation stone, still in place today, was laid in 1879 by HRH the Prince of Wales. It is an archetypal grand Victorian Hall, located at the centre of the ‘Great Extension’ to the RHN. Until the Covid-19 pandemic The Assembly Room was being used daily as a space for boccia, socialising and entertainment, as well as twice weekly church services. It is an ideal space for people in wheelchairs because of its size and smooth floor, and was widely used by patients and family members as a place to relax and spend time together.
The Revd Geoff Coyne of the RHN said, “The restoration of the stained glass in this room that is at the heart of our RHN community not only keeps the ethos of the hospital’s founder alive "providing the best possible environment" but it enhances a space that is both social and spiritual giving a sense of peace and beauty.”
Dr Nicola Stacey, Director of the Heritage of London Trust, said “We are thrilled with the results of this project – it was an opportunity to restore a fantastic and colourful element of the Victorian hospital and make it work in a modern setting, for patients and their families long into the future. It’s also helped highlight the history of the hospital and all the care and detail that went into its original design.”
Laura Hobson, Conservator, Chapel Studio, said: “It’s very exciting to have a project like this to work on. The vast majority of our projects are for churches, cathedrals, university colleges as well as stately homes. But observing stained glass can be very spiritual and therapeutic and to be a part of a project to transform a space for quiet contemplation and to offer people solace is very rewarding”.
The charity gave special thanks for their support to:
Heritage of London Trust
Orion Capital Managers
The Glaziers Trust
Kenrob Charitable Trust
Scottish Summer Ball 2018
The Swire Charitable Trust
September 21, 2020