Treasure inside the M25
Our Regional Estate Officer visits a tiny chapel inside the M25...
"Today I set out for Lumley Chapel, Cheam, in Surrey, for a little project on Women in Conservation, which I am doing with the SPAB. I had never been to the chapel before and chose it simply because it was easy to access from Central London.
"The word "treasure" gets bandied about an awful lot with old buildings; it slightly grates on me, cheapening the real treasures, I think. I wouldn't describe Lumley Chapel as a treasure - it's very nice, but not quite of the gold coins status. (but I am hard to please) However, I imagine entering the chapel is as close to the feeling of finding a chest of treasures that I will ever get.
"In an overgrown churchyard sits a rectangular box of flint, brick and greensand stone. It is windowless on three sides, on the fourth the window is too high and obscured to even hope of glimpsing inside. The door is small and solid. The lock is unyielding.
"On first impression it could easily pass for an oversized electricity substation or boiler house. There's no knowing what's inside. It's intriguing.
"After much twisting, turning and shoulder-shunting, the lock gives. The door opens and a fortune of dazzling white marble and soft alabaster spills out before me. A blinding holy light. There are monuments everywhere. The walls are a collage of memorials. There are urns and cherubs left, right and centre. A fruity frieze drips pomegranates and pears.
"And as lovely as all this was, it was that initial sense of wonder, suspense, expectation, determination and triumph that I enjoyed the most."
- Rachel Morley, Regional Estate Officer
***Update March 2016***
You can now view Rachel's video - filmed at the Chapel and released to mark International Women's Day below.