New tabernacle for Edward King Chapel

13th June 2022

Renowned sculptor, John Maine, was commissioned by the Community of St John Baptist to design our new tabernacle. John said "When designing the tabernacle, I wanted it to fit into the fine architectural setting of the chapel, but with an identity of its own. The chapel is flooded with daylight and the tabernacle niche has distinct natural lighting through the circular window above. This led me to imagine a form which would respond to the fall of light, and I was reminded how the stone blocks of the exterior of the chapel created rich patterns of light and shade. I began to devise a structure with overlapping slabs of stone, encircling the tabernacle.  

As a safe store for the reserved sacrament, I felt the tabernacle should have a sense of security, but also be animated. The scale of the piece was governed by the size of the niche, and the new work needed to hold its ground without dominating.   

There is a progression of types of stone which form it. The base and interior floor are cut from a type of sedimentary limestone which was formed beneath the ocean. You can see fossils scattered throughout it, as witness of past life. In the span of geological time, these sedimentary stones seem to be a remote link to our form of life. However, the igneous blue granite, which forms the main walls here, is a much older material, dating from a time when the earth was in molten flux. The beautiful pale blue dome is gneiss which may be even older, as it was formed from mountains, which had been reduced to dust, and then reformed as a new stone over millions of years. The swirling surface of the dome reveals this history."