At St Helen and St Katharine, spiritual reflection, intellectual enquiry and tradition play an important role in the life of the School, all centred in our beautiful Chapel.
All students and staff are free to visit the Chapel during the day for private time, and groups of students use the space for activities and discussions on the big questions of life.
Each year group attends a morning service in the Chapel once a week, and each term there are whole-school Eucharists and other special services to mark important days in the School and church calendar.
Throughout the year, we welcome visiting speakers and hold events such as Lent Week, which aims to be creative, inspiring and inclusive to those of all faiths and none. Tea Concerts and other musical events take place regularly in the Chapel; it is a welcoming and atmospheric space in which to perform.
Composed of students in Years 9–Upper Sixth, Chapel Choir leads the School in weekly services, termly Eucharists and special occasions such as the service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas, the Confirmation Service and St Kate’s Day.
We are delighted to be celebrating the centenary of our beautiful Chapel of the Holy Cross. As we look back on the planning and building of the Chapel, we are grateful to former senior mistress of St Helen’s, Sister Frances Beatrice who instigated plans for the new Chapel to be built in her first meeting with the school governors in 1922.
The new Chapel, which was planned to seat 300, was designed by architect Frank L Pearson. The Foundation stone was laid by Bishop Shaw on 6 December 1922 and the newly completed Chapel of the Holy Cross was dedicated on St Luke’s Day 1923 by the Bishop of Oxford.
Vibrant tapestries of red and gold set off the elegant oak and mahogany altar, which was a gift from the Community. The eye-catching ‘Star Cross’ was a later installation in memory of Paul Egerton Comber, who was the son of the school Chaplain Reverend Tom Comber.
In very recent times the Chapel has served an altogether different purpose, although no less important to the life of St Helen’s, as an NHS covid test centre.