Letter: Aesthetic catastrophe at King's College Chapel

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The Independent Online
Sir: You have performed a valuable service by publishing Graham Chainey's exposure of the so- called 'restoration' of the interior of King's College Chapel in Cambridge. The cavalier treatment of one of the finest buildings in England remains an extraordinary scandal.

The aesthetic catastrophe achieved by the college in the Sixties has long been evident to anyone with an eye, for the gratuitous removal of the dark panelling that maintained the line of the glorious stalls has exposed painfully bare wall that was clearly not meant to be seen, but covered with wood or tapestry. The damage done by altering the floor levels, however, in defiance of the precise instructions given in the Founder's will, together with the concomitant destruction of the Tudor arched foundations and the exhumation of bodies, has not generally been appreciated.

But all is not lost. I have always understood that the 17th-century panelling by Cornelius Austin and the excellent Edwardian panelling and reredos by Detmar Blow, together with the great brass candelabra designed for the chapel by George Gilbert Scott Jnr, remain in store in Cambridge with the contractors Rattee & Kett. It would be good if King's could confirm this, for, as far as I am aware, there is nothing to stop the college atoning for its past sins by restoring the original floor levels and the appearance of the east end of the chapel to what it was before 1964. This ought to be done as soon as is practicable.

Yours faithfully,

GAVIN STAMP

Glasgow

29 December

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