Basil Champneys’ Chapel
Basil Champneys (1842-1935) was the architect of the Mill Hill School Chapel.
Believing that architecture was ‘an art not a science’ he joined the Art Workers Guild instead of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Although Champneys was able to work in the Gothic style that John Prichard preferred and taught, he later became one of the pioneers of the Queen Anne style, working on at least 100 buildings throughout England. John Rylands’ widow, Enriqueta Rylands, had admired the library Champneys had designed for Mansfield College, Oxford and hired him to develop the design on a more lavish scale – The John Rylands Memorial Library in Deansgate, Manchester took nine years to build before opening on January 1, 1900, it is one of Champneys’ finest designs.
Champneys’ Oxford buildings include the Indian Institute (1883-1896), Mansfield (1887-1890), the Robinson Tower at New College (1896), The Rhodes Building in Oriel College (1908-1911), Merton College (1904-1910), the library of Somerville College (1903) and the church of St Peter-le-Bailey (1872-1874), which serves as the chapel for St Peter’s College.
His Cambridge works include the Archaeological Museum (1883), now Peterhouse Theatre, the Divinity and Literary School and Newnham College (between 1875 and 1910), for which he is credited for bringing a ‘touch of lightness’ to the college and is acknowledged for his attention to both construction details, and to cost.
Champneys’ buildings elsewhere include the chapel of Mill Hill School, London (1898), buildings for Bedford College in Regent’s Park (1910), King’s Lynn Grammar School, Norfolk (1910-1913), the Butler Museum at Harrow School (1886), the museum at Winchester College (1898), and Bedford High School (1878-1892).
Churches by Champneys include his father’s parish church, St Luke’s, Kentish Town (1867-1870), the sailors’ church of St Mary Star of the Sea, Hastings (1878), and St Chad, Slindon, Staffordshire (1894). In 1898 he added a porch to St Mary, Manchester, where he was surveyor, and between 1902 and 1903, a south annexe. His home, Hall Oak, in Frognall, Hampstead was also one of his works.