Hampshire & Isle of Wight

WWI Sandham Memorial Chapel reopens

A Grade I listed chapel built to honour the "forgotten dead" of World War One has reopened to the public after a year's conservation project.

Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere, Hampshire, is the only National Trust building dedicated to the Great War.

Image copyright John Hammond
Image caption Sandham Memorial Chapel has been referred to as "Britain's answer to the Sistine Chapel"

It was built in the 1920s to honour those who were not remembered on any official memorials.

It has been referred to as "Britain's answer to the Sistine Chapel", due to the Stanley Spencer artwork it houses.

A new community-inspired garden by Hampshire designer Daniel Lobb has been created at the site as part of the project.

A competition to design some of the planting was won by Alice Wrightson, a student from nearby Sparsholt College.

Image copyright Daniel Lobb
Image caption The garden has been transformed for the reopening

Local groups and charities including Tedworth House, a local rehabilitation centre for injured and sick service personnel, have helped transform the garden which now includes circular paths, fruit trees and a vegetable plot.

The chapel houses 19 artworks by Spencer, created to honour the forgotten dead of World War One.

The large-scale canvas panels have been returned to the chapel for the reopening following a touring exhibition at Somerset House in London, and Pallant House in Chichester.

Image copyright Sam Roberts
Image caption Spencer's paintings depict scenes of his own wartime experiences

Sandham Memorial Chapel was built by John Louis and Mary Behrend primarily to house Spencer's paintings.

It was dedicated to the memory of their brother Harry Sandham who died in the war.

Completed in 1932, Spencer's paintings depict scenes of his own wartime experiences as a hospital orderly in Bristol, and as a soldier on the Salonika front.

His recollections, painted entirely from memory, show domestic scenes from the lives of soldiers, including them washing lockers, inspecting kit, sorting laundry and scrubbing floors.

Image copyright John Hammond
Image caption The conservation work was funded by a lottery grant

The conservation work at the chapel has been funded by a £100,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, as well as donations.

The HLF grant has also funded ongoing community work which is set to include a new interactive exhibition space and cafe within the chapel's almshouses.

The chapel still holds services up to four times a year, including the annual Remembrance Day event.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The chapel is still used for services including a Remembrance Day event

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