3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Paintings depicting First World War return home as chapel re-opens with new garden of reflection

PUBLISHED: 12:43 28 May 2014

Sandham Memorial Chapel, Harts Lane, Newbury, Hampshire, RG20 9JT

On Monday 4th August, 100 years to the day since Great Britain declared war on Germany, Sandham Memorial Chapel will re-open to the public. The chapel, which has drawn praise such as ‘Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel’, houses an epic series of nineteen works by Stanley Spencer, created to honour the forgotten dead of the First World War. The chapel is the only National Trust building dedicated to the First World War.

These incredible large-scale canvas panels, considered by many to be Spencer’s finest achievement, are returning following an acclaimed touring exhibition at Somerset House in London and Pallant House in Chichester, and will once again be seen in the chapel, now cared for by the National Trust.

To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, and to mark the re-opening of the chapel after a year’s extensive conservation work, a community-inspired garden has been created which will offer a tranquil and reflective space for all visitors, with circular paths, fruit trees, cottage garden scented planting and a vegetable plot.

Sandham Memorial Chapel was built by John Louis and Mary Behrend primarily to house Spencer’s paintings. It was dedicated to the memory of their brother Harry Sandham who died in the War.

Completed in 1932, Spencer’s paintings depict scenes of his own wartime experiences as a hospital orderly in Bristol and as a soldier on the Salonika front. Peppered with personal and unexpected details, they combine the realism of everyday life with dreamlike visions. His recollections, painted entirely from memory, show domestic scenes from the lives of soldiers, including them washing lockers, inspecting kit, sorting laundry, scrubbing floors and taking tea. As the UK’s involvement in the current Afghan conflict draws to a close in 2014, the paintings serve as a timely reminder that the wartime routines depicted are as relevant now as they were then.

The new garden surrounding the chapel is the creation of Hampshire designer Daniel Lobb to complement the modernist proportions of the building. A competition to design some of the planting has given winner Alice Wrightson, a student from nearby Sparsholt College, the opportunity to help shape the look of this special place. As well as providing a peaceful space for visitors, it will offer horticultural therapy charity Thrive the chance to continue working in the garden using specially adapted tools.

Local communities and charities have provided invaluable support in the preparation and transformation of the garden. These include servicemen and women from Tedworth House, a local rehabilitation centre for injured and sick service personnel funded by Help for Heroes, and London-based homeless charity St Mungo’s.

Alison Paton, Sandham’s chapel steward, says: ‘Thanks to the amazing support we have received – from the generous £100,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to the many donations to our recent fundraising appeal - we have been able to create a wonderful experience for those coming to this place of remembrance and spirituality. The HLF grant has also funded ongoing community work, which will ensure that Sandham has a strong local legacy for future generations.’

Plans for the future include a new, interactive exhibition space and refreshments area within the almhouses that flank the chapel. Copies of drawings and letters, an audio visual introduction to Spencer’s artworks and a film will offer visitors the chance to explore and experience more of the remarkable stories of the chapel, Stanley Spencer, Harry Sandham and the Behrends.

Sandham Memorial Chapel re-opens on Tuesday 5th August. Tickets available by pre-booking only.

More from Out & About

Fri, 10:31

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tue, 09:55

This year Winchester’s Theatre Royal celebrates the 40th anniversary of its re-opening as a performance theatre

Read more
Mon, 15:30

Avon Valley, Beer and Cake is the ABC of why Ringwood, a busy market town on the western edge of the New Forest, makes a quirkily clever choice for a break away

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Lego enthusiast Duncan Titmarsh has built his business brick by brick; from tinkering in his garden shed to internationally acclaimed sculptures

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

New Forest ponies are an iconic sight, yet modern-day pressures pose a constant threat to the traditional landscape. Viv Micklefield heads to Lyndhurst to take stock of what happens inside England’s oldest forest court

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Austen’s treasures to castles built by Henry VIII, Heritage Open Days (6-9 and 13-16 September 2018) allow you to step behind the doors of some of the county’s most iconic but hidden premises.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

With the New Forest, South Downs and a picturesque coastline, Hampshire is an amazing place for a walk. We round up a few of our favourites

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If there’s one thing we love to do here at Hampshire Life, it’s to celebrate local produce! So here are a selection of some of the best farm shops across the county where you’ll find just that

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

With a vibrant local community, this is a shining example of a true Hampshire village

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people, and many more are seeing the health benefits after waving goodbye to gluten. Here are just a few of the county’s cafes, pubs and producers who are embracing the gluten free way

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Looking for some peace and tranquility this summer? Lose yourself in one of these wonderful gardens

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The castles and forts around the county make for a fascinating ghost hunt by night, and a fun family trip by day

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

When Southsea’s South Parade Pier closed in 2012, derelict and a shadow of its former glory days, who’d have thought that six years on it would be Pier of the Year

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory



Property Search