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Chapter House: Advent doors 2018

Written by Sarah Meyrick, posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2018

This door is one of the oldest in Christ Church and you can find it in our medieval cloisters. The Chapter House itself dates from 1225, but the door is even older.

Chapter House ceilingThis beautiful Romanesque doorway, with its characteristically Norman zigzag moulding, is in fact the oldest part of Christ Church, having been built in 1150. The room beyond it replaces an older Chapter House which was destroyed by fire in 1190, and traces of fire damage from that date can still be seen on the doorway itself.

That's why the door looks so rough: the oldest parts of the building are the ones which have endured the most. And this particular door has certainly seen a lot of change.

Originally, the Chapter House was where the Augustinian monks, who founded the ancient Priory on which Christ Church is built, would have met. In subsequent centuries it has served as a dining room and lecture theatre.

Today the Chapter House is the home of our popular shop, as well as displaying some of the treasures of Christ Church and parishes in the Diocese of Oxford. It is much loved by staff and by visitors. If you go inside, you can admire its rich carvings and intricate vaulting, including grotesque imps and a touching roof carving of the Virgin and child. Look up to the ceiling, and you will spot mural paintings of St Peter and St Paul.

But change is on its way. When the visitor centre opens in 2019, the shop will relocate there, and the Chapter House will be restored to the Cathedral. Quite how it will be used is yet to be announced. Building on the past, it’s time for a new, er, chapter.