Detail of a window on the south side of the chapel by Abraham van Linge 1641.
University College is one of the oldest foundations in Oxford, but structurally what we see today dates mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries onwards. The chapel occupies the eastern half of the south wing of the main quadrangle (opposite the College’s main entrance from High Street). It was heavily restored and Gothicised in 1862, but still retains its original 17th century woodwork, and more importantly a very fine glazing scheme of the same date.
The windows (aside from the two Victorian ones in the chancel) are the work of German artist Abraham van Linge and form a complete set dating from 1641, with six Old Testament subjects on both sides (plus one from the New Testament in the antechapel). All are executed mostly in enamel (as were most stained glass windows at this time) which is painted on rectangular panes of clear glass like a canvas, although a limited use of actual coloured glass (‘pot metal’) still features here for certain elements (for example more vividly coloured parts of drapery). Some of the most attractive features are the rich backgrounds with lush landscape and city-scapes often filling as much of the space as the figures illustrating the narrative. Glass of this unusually tolerant era in the Post Reformation is very rare outside of Oxford, and the windows here represent this phase of the medium at its finest.
University College isn’t open as often as some Oxford colleges (it took me several visits before I finally managed to gain entry) and an entry fee and tour are required, but I had my own personal guide (one of the students) who was very knowledgeable and kindly left me to enjoy the chapel for as long as I wanted at the end.
Tagged: , Oxford , college , chapel , Oxfordshire , University College , stained glass , window , enamel , Abraham van Linge