Cranleigh School is an independent boarding school near Guildford in Surrey. Originally established to provide an education for the sons of the local farming community, Cranleigh opened with 27 boys in 1865. This summer marks the end of a year’s worth of celebrations for the school’s 150th anniversary, and as part of the commemorations we were tasked with refurbishment of the chapel and the construction of a memorial to Cranleighans who have fallen in war.
Heating is an inherent problem with many old chapels and the one at Cranleigh was no exception. After removing the old radiators, we installed an underfloor heating system, independent from the school’s main system, which keeps the chapel at an ambient temperature year round. The chapel, along with the school’s other early buildings, was designed by Henry Woodyer, a highly respected Victorian architect. The school was keen to brighten the chapel with a new lighter coloured floor but as the chapel is Grade II listed, we had to ensure the new floor was sympathetic to Woodyer’s vision. After consultation with Planning, we replaced existing geometric quarry tiles with a modern geometric interpretation, complemented by Ancaster Hard White limestone.
Once the chapel phase of the project was completed, we began work on the memorial; a replacement for the original one which was removed in the 1950s and subsequently lost. The school commissioned Nicholas Dimbleby, the figurative sculptor of the ‘Whistler’ on the Southbank, to create a piece that “signifies peace and duty as well as honouring the fallen”. Nicholas is an Old Cranleighan himself, and has described this work as being something “his whole career has led to”. We designed a plinth with a specially commissioned ‘Cranleigh Blend’ handmade brick surrounded by a glass balustrade etched with the names of all 382 former pupils who lost their lives in battle during the school’s history. Originally, we specified the same limestone used in the chapel for the pathway around the memorial. However the supplier went into administration just five weeks before the unveiling ceremony leaving us with a near impossible deadline to meet. With some hasty negotiations, a suitable York stone was sourced and laid much to the delight (and relief) of the school’s management team.
On Friday 1st July, the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the end of the school’s 150th year, the three metre high bronze and Bath stone sculpture entitled ‘Leaving’ was unveiled by General The Lord Richard Dannatt. After the ceremony, General Dannatt said of the sculpture: “It shows the vulnerability of youth and the hopes and ambitions of so many; it is therefore very appropriate to reflect that many young men from the school lost their lives giving us peace and freedom so that we can realise these ambitions.”