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Beard Construction

Radley College Chapel, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Radley College Chapel, Abingdon, Oxfordshire: extension and reordering of grade II*-listed chapel, completed in 112 weeks. 

Client: Radley College 

Contract: JCT 2016  

Value: £4.2m 

About the Project

A construction project can be thought of as a circus, with each act or trade entering as the previous one leaves. On this scheme, Bill Taylor was a dramatist rather than a ringmaster, repeatedly grouping the actors or trades on stage for their acts.  

The multiple subcontractors for the bespoke design were smoothly assembled by Bill into a collaborative team. Take the new sanctuary’s marble floor, which lines up with the hand-made bricks of the wall, which slots between stone arches that line up with the intricate timber ceiling, which fits the glass lantern precisely, which in turn is surrounded by hand-made 42kg lead tiles. 

Bill had the new sanctuary’s octagonal roof made off site, using BIM to coordinate the design with the concrete frame and brickwork. Made in timber to complement the hammerbeam trussed structure of the existing chapel, the new roof was tied together with a stainless-steel strap around the perimeter. 

He altered the detail of the sanctuary’s vaulted ceiling and arches from traditionally built brick vaults and solid stone to a lightweight brick-slip system supported by secondary steel. This reduced costs by £200,000 and improved buildability.  

He also devised temporary support to leave in situ a huge stained-glass window, as the wall beneath was manually removed to make the opening into the new sanctuary.