This week we visited the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere near Newbury. I did check the website for opening times, but missed the advice that the chapel has no light, so one should view it on a bright day. By lucky chance, Wednesday was brilliantly sunny.
If you are interested in WWI artists and their particular style, this is a must-see. I recommend reading the brief history on the website before you go (I failed to, but the volunteer guide was excellent.) The simple brick chapel is small but the impact is huge, especially the dominating resurrection scene where the risen-again soldiers give their crosses to a relatively small figure of Christ – very moving, regardless of whether one is of a religious persuasion or not.
To quote from the website: ‘Executed between 1927 and 1932, the wall paintings at Sandham Memorial Chapel comprise Stanley Spencer's most famous work and are arguably his finest achievement.
This extraordinary project illustrates the artist's experiences as a medical orderly in a war hospital in Bristol and the northern Greek region of Macedonia during the First World War and was strongly influenced by Giotto's Arena Chapel in Padua.
Painted in oil (on custom-made fitted canvases), Spencer intended the murals to celebrate the everyday routine of a soldier's life and to express an intensely personal religious faith.’
To more mundane matters, the nearby pub the Carnarvon Arms is good. It’s on the way to Highclere Castle, seat of Lord Carnarvon, whose ancestor was involved in the discovery of Tutenkhamun’s tomb. The huge castle – the kind of place that features in costume dramas - is closed during winter but well worth a visit too, mainly because of its mad Victorian turrets, beautiful park and the Egyptian relics (see their website for more details).