The foundation stone of the Chapel at Kings was laid by Henry VI on 25 July 1446 and four kings, 85 years and the Wars of the Roses later it was completed by the installation of the stained glass windows in 1531. The windows survived the reformers of the Edwardian reformation probably because the new Protestant church leaders were all Cambridge men. Similarly during the second outbreak of iconoclasm during the Civil War, Cambridge was held for Parliament by local boy Oliver Cromwell. The chapel has the simplest of plans, and a very straightforward section, but its enormous scale, its sublime vaulting and its sheer single mindedness are always satisfying. William Wilkins was given the tricky commission of the screen and Porters lodge facing Kings Parade in 1823, when the fellows nobly chose not to put a college building there. Wilkins has always had a bad press, considered mediocre after the admittedly rather underwhelming National Gallery, but this I think is his masterpiece.
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