A new chapel that heralds a bold new Westminster
AS this page went to press on Friday, the newly decorated Chapel of St George at Westminster Cathedral was in the process of consecration. Athena had the advantage of a preview and was hugely impressed by what she saw. The scheme, designed by Tom Phillips, draws together an interior that has been ornamented piecemeal since the 1930s. Mr Phillips’s work incorporates both intricately cut marble patterns—termed intarsia—and mosaic. Across a deep-blue vault in the latter medium are the names of 40 English Catholic martyrs, each set in blazing leaf of gold representing— in the artist’s mind—‘the flames of their faith’.
On the west wall of the chapel is an intarsia of a gallows and the inscription ‘two miles beyond this wall our martyrs gave their lives for the faith’, which locates their suffering uncomfortably nearby at Tyburn (near Marble Arch). The chapel altarpiece is a monumental low-relief carving, the last work