Campion Hall, Oxford, UK

Edwin Lutyens
Date Built
1934 - 1936
Brewer Street
Campion Hall was established by the Society of Jesus in 1896.  Originally it was lodged in a building leased from St John's College, which the Campion Hall website describes as being, "... conveniently placed next to the Lamb & Flag public house."  When Father Martin D'Arcy was appointed Master in 1933 he inherited a plan to build a new Hall in St Giles but he didn't like the plan.  Instead he purchased an existing building, Micklem Hall in Brewer Street.  The site was, ".... behind the city wall that borders Pembroke. Very central, it had the disadvantage of being very narrow but quite long, as it stretched from Brewer Street to Rose Place, and was partly occupied by Micklem Hall, a well-known "digs" belonging to Christ Church that had to be preserved as it dated back to the 16th century."

Having acquired the site D'Arcy then asked his friend Edwin Lutyens if he would refurbish the sixteenth century building.  Lutyens was by this point a celebrated architect so his enthusiasm for the task was impressive considering the size of the project compared to his creation of the city of New Delhi. 

The college's website explains that, "... The new Campion Hall was built in local Cotswold stone and opened in 1936, winning many tributes for the way Lutyens had made such impressive use of the rather cramped site he was offered. The Hall shows some reminiscences of New Delhi, including the carved Hindu bells which top the pillars on its wooden staircases."

The characteristic Lutyen's bells can also be seen at the top of the pillars that frame one of the entrance doors.

"Keeping his distinctive neo-classical style ... Lutyens designed an L-shaped building, along one side of the site, with hopes of eventually completing a quadrangle. Construction began in 1935 and the community could occupy it in 1936. Great care went into the Main Chapel, every detail of which was designed by Lutyens, on the first storey level, with a lecture room beneath it."

The chapel features the Stations of the Cross created by Frank Brangwyn, described as an Anglo-Welsh artist, painter, water colourist, engraver, illustrator and progressive designer, born in Bruges.  The images are lithographs printed on sycamore.

"... during the World War II, Charles Mahoney was invited to decorate the Lady Chapel with murals, and these create a unique prayer space, the only major work of this artist that survived the war."  In an article for the Spectator in 2007 Andrew Lambith wrote about his visit to Campion Hall to see the work of Mahoney.  He said of the artist and his murals that, "... Mahoney was a meticulous craftsman, making many preliminary drawings for his paintings on the life of the Virgin, most of which were destroyed in the act of tracing them on to the plastered walls of the chapel. For Mahoney had decided to paint directly on to the walls in the approved Italian manner, undeterred by the dampness of our climate. (Spencer, for instance, had painted on canvas, which was later affixed to the walls at Burghclere.) Mahoney also made a number of colour studies for his compositions. He worked slowly, only painting in the long summer vacation and part of the Easter holiday (when he was not teaching), and insisting on natural light. He continued thus for ten years, his last regular summer session being in 1952.  Then something went wrong. Apparently, Mahoney didn’t feel that his efforts were sufficiently appreciated, the funding ran out and work ceased. Although he visited the chapel again about a year before he died, he was too ill to do more than a little retouching. As a result, a panel to the left of the Sacristy door and two other panels, on either side of the altar, are unfinished. Drawn in grey underpaint, they look surprisingly graceful: spiritual and unaffected, they do not detract from the completed murals"


- Inside -

A reproduction of Michelangelo's Madonna and Child from Bruges stands beside the staircase.

Nearby is the bas-relief carving of St Martin, a Roman soldier, giving his cloak to a beggar, later revealed to have been Christ.  This was created by another of D'Arcy's friends Eric Gill.

Lutyens didn't restrict himself to the architecture at Campion Hall, many of the fittings and fixtures were his designs.


Finally, the Campion website adds that, "In the 1950s a South Wing was added, which houses the Common Room, and most recently Pembroke added a handsome extension on the West side so that a spacious quadrangle now completes the complex."

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