The Church of St John the Evangelist

The Church of St. John the Evangelist by Bodley was built between 1894-6; the tower was completed in 1902. It was originally intended to extend far further west. It is listed Grade 1. Notable are the windows by Kempe, including the magnificent piece at the east end depicting the crucified Jesus in the midst of a vine of saints; and the Bodley reredos. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel – where the consecrated elements of the Eucharist are housed – was expanded from the original Song School by Ninian Comper in the 1930s. His ciborium over the altar reflects that in the House Chapel. Note should be taken of the lockable gates dividing the chapel from the north aisle, to provide a legally separate space from the church in a time when it was illegal to reserve the Sacrament of Holy Communion within a church. The rood screen is based on German prototypes, and the rood itself is from Bavaria. Notice the confessional box in the north aisle, a sign of the Cowley Fathers’ ministry of counsel and absolution to their many visitors.

The main body of the college is also by Bodley, built in 1899(grade 2*). Together with St John’s church, it is his largest and arguably most important work on a single site. It contains the HOUSE CHAPEL, with its original stalls and screen. Originally terminating at the step into the sanctuary, it was expanded to include two short transepts and two sacristies between 1937-9 by Ninian Comper. The ciborium is an excellent example of his trademark style of ‘unity by inclusion’, combining elements of classical and baroque design. It is loosely based on a late antique North African prototype. Comper’s vision for this building was restored with the reinstatement of an eastward facing altar in 2009. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is also reserved on this altar. Note the name boards over the stalls, listing the dates and places of death of the Mission Priests of the Society of St John the Evangelist.

A variety of refreshments and food are available before during and after Festival events.