King’s College Chapel is the chapel of King’s College at the University of Cambridge. It is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture and features the world’s largest fan vault.
The fan vault is an English innovation not seen in the churches of continental Europe. It developed in the 14th century as a shell form inserted into existing Norman or Romanesque structures as an alternative to the Gothic arch, whose loading paths required either pinnacles or flying buttresses (or both).
The ribs of a fan vault are of equal curvature and rotated at equal distances around a central (vertical) axis, forming the conoid shape which gives rise to the name. In between sequences of conoids, flat central spandrels fill the space.
A vault is a crucial method of support in architecture, as it is a self-supporting arched form. Vaults are commonly made from stone or brick and create the ceiling or roof of a structure. They allow for interior spaces to be spacious and supported.
This image also features the Harrison & Harrison organ, which is, like the College Choir, famous the world over. The organ case with gilded pipework, which surmounts the 16th-century screen, is a striking feature of nearly every depiction of the interior of the Chapel. At the same time, the instantly recognisable sounds of the instrument have become inextricably associated with those of the Choir.
Many of today’s leading musicians have held the position of Organ Scholar at King’s. The organ fulfils an essential role in the religious and musical life of the College while also serving as an educational resource; as such, it supports all of the College’s statutory aspirations: ‘education, religion, learning and research’.
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Location: Kings College Chapel, Cambridge
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson