The School’s Christian Ethos
Although Christian values are at the school’s core, the chapel offers a broad, inclusive and all-embracing approach which allows space for all religions or none. The aim is to ensure the distinctiveness of Christianity but the opportunity for all to feel a part of what is happening. The chapel encourages everyone to reflect more deeply on matters of moral worth and to find something of the spiritual on a personal level. Some of this is reinforced in RS lessons and naturally in the wider life of the school. All are encouraged to participate as fully as they can in the chapel’s life. There are opportunities to lead prayers on Wednesday morning, to serve at the Eucharist, to read and to sing in the choir. Boys and girls are prepared for confirmation in the Autumn and Spring terms.
The seniors attend chapel daily except on Monday which takes place in Big School and includes the Head's notices and ends with Latin Prayer. There is no chapel on Saturday. On average Sunday services tend to fall every other week, the occasional one being voluntary or taking place in the evening. There is usually one mid-week morning service a term. Harvest, Remembrance Sunday, a round of Carol Services and Old Blundellian Day tend to be highlights of the year. Confirmation usually takes place towards the end of the Spring or early in the Summer Term. The chapel is also used by the Preparatory School for their end of term services.
The present chapel at Blundell’s was consecrated in 1883. It was the school’s first. The boys had previously attended services on Sunday in the parish church of St Peter in Tiverton. That historical link still remains. There has been a tradition of marching from the old Jacobean school to St Peter’s in Petertide every four years and on important anniversaries, the four hundredth being our most recent.
The Gill Altar
The centre-piece of the current chapel building is the Gill altar installed in the 1930’s. Neville Gorton wished to update the conservative Victorian Gothic design by adding something new and innovative: an altar in the round. Although a central location was initially proposed, a compromise led to the re-ordering of the sanctuary area. The wood panelling was removed and the surrounding walls white-washed. In order to make the altar even more prominent the stain-glass windows on the east wall were blocked out. This also accentuated an inlaid hanging wooden cross which was added at the same time. The altar is particularly remarkable in that it was carved by the boys to Eric Gill’s designs. It arouses affectionate memories and emotive feelings in all who participated in its manufacture and is a reminder of Gorton’s Anglo-Catholicism and his modern approach to educational method: learning through experience.
The Lady Chapel
This more recent building was added in the 1980’s to designs by Rag Squire. Hexagonal in shape and lit by a central lantern this intimate space has been recently restored and provides a setting for the weekday communion service, prayers, reflection and peace and quiet. The boys, girls and staff are encouraged to use it as needs be and they may light candles or leave a personal prayer if desired.