Art & Architecture: Lady Chapel

This is a small chapel seating about 30 people, which is used for weekday services and at 8am on Sundays. Its name comes from Mary, Jesus' mother who is sometimes called "Our Lady".

At the entrance is a fine statue of the Madonna and Child, that is Jesus being held by his mother Mary. Jesus is shown holding a golden ball, which represents the world, and Mary has a crown and carries a sceptre, sometimes Mary is called "The Queen of Heaven". This statue, which came from a convent at Woking, has been recently restored.

Nearer the altar, on the right, is a beautiful and moving Icon called " The Harrowing of Hell". Painted by Edith Reyntiens, the icon shows Jesus after his death breaking open the way from hell to heaven, watched by patriarchs and saints. The traditional interpretation of the two figures in the foreground is that they are Adam and Eve, but in our prayers we might imagine Jesus helping our own loved ones, or ourselves, to heaven in just this way. Notice that some of the figures looking on don't seem to approve, breaking the gates of hell, or hallowing hell (harrowing) is a controversial and world changing idea.

Like much of the art in All Saints' the icon is full of symbolism and meaning. Spend a moment in the Lady Chapel, listening and watching for God.

The reredos (screen) behind the Lady Chapel altar was given in memory of Ruth Maslen who died in 1935 aged 16. The Bible tells us that Christ was born of the House of David and that Ruth the Moabitess was the grandmother of Jesse, the father of David, and therefore the ancestress of Our Lord. The six shields on the panel are intended to illustrate this genealogy and from the left they are: Ruth (the gleaner); Jesse; David; St Anne (the mother of Our lady); Our Lady (Fleur de Lys); Our Lord (Chi-Ro). The two remaining shields at the extremities of the reredos represent: the County of Hampshire (Rose and Crown) and the Borough of Basingstoke (St Michael).

To the left of the altar there is a wall aumbry before which hangs a white light to remind us of the sacramental presence of Our Lord under the forms of bread and wine.

The window in the Lady Chapel is particularly fine showing Mary, holding the Holy Child, in the centre, her cousin Elizabeth with St John the baptist on the left and St Mary Magdalene on the right. The lights above this show the Annunciation with the Angel Gabriel on the left holding one end of a scroll, which unrolls through the top light, with God the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove, to the light on the right which shows the Virgin Mary. The words on the scroll are Hail Thou that art Highly Favoured.