bishop edward king chapel


Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxford, UK

Niall McLaughlin Architects

Lightenings (VIII) - by Seamus Heaney

The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
Were all at prayers inside the oratory
A ship appeared above them in the air.

The anchor dragged along behind so deep
It hooked itself into the altar rails
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,

A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
And struggled to release it. But in vain.
‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown,’

The abbot said, 'unless we help him.’ So
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
Out of the marvellous as he had known it.


Bishop Edward King Chapel.

The chapel is situated in the small village of Cuddesdon in rural Oxfordshire, around ten miles from Oxford city centre.

Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects

Client: Ripon College and Community of St John the Baptist

Standing at the centre of the grounds of Ripon College in Cuddesdon,Oxfordshire, Bishop Edward King Chapel is an elliptical building crafted from natural materials such as larch and ash woods, and lime plaster.

Part of the inspiration for the building was a play on the word “nave” which, as well as describing the central space of a church, is derived from navis - Latin for boat.

“From these words, two architectural images emerged,” says architect Niall McLaughlin. “The first is the hollow in the ground as the meeting place of the community, the still centre. The second is the delicate ship-like timber structure that floats above in the tree canopy, the gathering place for light and sound.”