I have been asked to provide some notes about Hensley Memorial Chapel at King’s-Edgehill School with respect to the capital project of raising funds to make our chapel wheel-chair accessible.-
The chapel is the second-oldest building on the campus (1877) and shares with the library, formally Convocation Hall, a certain architectural and aesthetic dignity. Built of stone, locally quarried, it is one of the relatively few stone churches in the province.-
The chapel has a national historic designation related to the foundation of the School and College, the only building on campus with such a designation, along with the Latin inscription on its foundation; Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
, ‘For the Greater Glory of God’, the famous motto of the Jesuit order though not restricted to it.
After the dining hall and the theatre, the chapel is the most highly used collegiate space on the campus by all students; the space where four chapel services happen every week, year in and year out.
The chapel is often the most frequently visited space by former students. It is the place of memories and associations that belong to students from the time of their being at King’s-Edgehill.
The chapel embodies the history of the School as arising out of the American Revolution and yet expressing an enlightenment ideal about education as contributing to public service - Deo Legi Regi Gregi
- as the School motto puts it, an education ‘for God, for the Law, for the King and for the people’, an education which contributes to public service.
The chapel, more than any other space on the campus, provides visible witness to the military component of the long history of the School and as such to the continued importance of the cadet programme at King’s-Edgehill.
The chapel is not just a building but an essential and integral part of the educational project of the School. It speaks to the place of religion in education not as sectarian and denominational but as philosophy and ethics. The chapel programme seeks to place the various aspects of the educational programme of the School within the larger history of education and culture.
The chapel programme in situ
, in the very building, provides a critical form of engagement with the religions of the world and the secular world, itself a product of the religious understanding; it is in that sense a strong component of the educational project of the School.
During the COVID-19 lock-down, through the efforts of the Headmaster and the Chaplain, the chapel continued by way of a Zoom link to provide a way of thinking about the current crisis, even in and through the Portapique massacre.
The chapel is the site of the annual Encaenia
service which, far beyond mere traditionalism, undertakes to articulate something of the nature of the educational programme of the School.
The chapel relates in a significant way to all four of the School’s pillars: academics, arts, athletics, and leadership. In a way, they all come together in each and every chapel service.
Though often taken for granted, the chapel endures as an essential aspect of the School. Providing wheel-chair access would mark the only significant capital improvement to the chapel since the design and installation of the windows in the chapel (2005/6). Just as the windows provide ‘access’ to the long history and story of the School and College, so, too, making the chapel more easily accessible to parents and grandparents and to those with varying mobility concerns signals the School’s commitment to these important issues, namely access to an integral feature of the School’s identity and life.
It goes without saying, I hope, that the vision of making the chapel wheelchair accessible via the road-side entrance will also enhance the aesthetic ambience of the campus overall and provide a wonderful point of transition to the School’s cenotaph.
Not much of the School is wheelchair accessible. It is not an easy problem to solve but in the case of the chapel, it is a significant symbol and sign of the School’s commitment to accessibility, and one which is quite feasible. The library is already, thanks to its renovation several decades past, wheelchair accessible. It is time to make the chapel equally accessible.
I humbly ask for your help in making this happen.
(Rev’d) David Curry