Relhan Collection : 21 Barnwell. St Mary’s Chapel, Stourbridge (Leper Chapel) SE view

Relhan, Richard, 1782-1844

Relhan Collection

<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>1819</p><p> JS Cotman, copied and coloured by Relhan</p><p>John Sell Cotman (1782 – 1842) was an influential landscape painter, etcher and a leading member of the Norwich School of Painting. As part of his work at Norwich he was happy to lend drawings for students to copy from a Circulating Library of over 1000 works. It is not surprising if copies by lesser artists got confused with his work. The chapel was built beside a leper hospital and graveyard (of which nothing remains), and was first recorded 1169, when leprosy was at its height in Europe. It was probably founded by the burgesses of Cambridge, for it was specified (by the Crown) that lepers should beg, eat and worship together, well outside towns. By 1279 there were no lepers here and the building was reckoned a free chapel. Regular religious worship ended in C16 but the building survived, used as a chapel, stabling and storage for Stourbridge Fair. It was also used for services during the Fair, as a drinking booth and possibly to house the chaplain, which might explain the chimney in the drawing of 1819, not seen in 1835 (346). In 1816 the chapel was purchased by the antiquarian Thomas Kerrich, who repaired it before giving it to Cambridge University. The later drawing shows windows that were inserted or enlarged by 1835. Kerrich’s son and the Cambridge Camden Society undertook further repairs 1843-5, as did G Gilbert Scott junior for the Cambridge Architectural Society, 1865-7. The W wall was rebuilt and appropriately medieval-style windows replaced C18 insertions, some using original details. The chapel has been owned by Cambridge Past, Present and Future (and its predecessor Cambridge Preservation Society) since 1951. Unfortunately the spire of Chesterton church which Relhan showed is now obscured by industrial buildings. </p><p>Cotman 1819; Haigh 1988; Pearce 2003; RCHME 1959</p></p>


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