King Arthur’s Great Halls is an atmospheric and historic building in Tintagel, Cornwall, legendary birthplace of King Arthur.
The Halls were
built in the 1930s by Frederick Thomas Glasscock as the home of the
Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table of King
(The above details are taken from the official book 'King Arthur's Great Hall of Chivalry, Tintagel', available from King Arthur’s Great Halls, Tintagel)
From the unassuming outside of the Halls it is quite difficult to imagine the delights that await within.
The Halls are
entered through what is now a shop selling Arthurian and related books
and artefacts. Upon leaving the shop, the visitor enters the Small
Hall, where a brief audio visual presentation of the story of Arthur
There are ten paintings by William Hatherell R.I. (1855 – 1928), who achieved fame as an illustrator and painter. He illustrated works by Thomas Hardy, William Blake and J.M.Barrie and in 1892 he joined the staff of Graphic Magazine. He exhibited extensively at the New Society of Painters, the Royal Academy of British Artists and at the Royal Academy. He was a keen cyclist, but his health was failing by the late 1920s when Frederick Glasscock commissioned ten paintings from him for King Arthur’s Hall to tell the story of the Arthurian legend.
Hatherell died in 1928 and it is suspected that this was before he could complete his commission. Only two of the ten paintings are actually signed ‘W.Hatherell’ (one of them being dated 1928), the rest are unsigned. A number of experts have examined the paintings, some claim to see a second or even a third hand at work; if this is so, it is possible that the commission might have been finished by pupils of William Hatherell.
The ten paintings in the Hall depict the Arthurian story, from Arthur as a baby through to his eventual death at the hands of Mordred. Scenes include Merlin, the Lady of the Lake, Guinevere, Lancelot and Galahad.
An illustrated booklet about the paintings is available from King Arthur’s Great Halls
Upon leaving the Small Hall, the visitor passes along a corridor into the Hall of Chivalry, that includes 125 shields of granite, set along its full length, representing the passage from darkness into light.
Granite is also used in the huge canopy over the throne, weighing six tons and supported by nine massive granite pillars. There is also a granite Round Table, along with two wooden ones.
The Halls contain seventy three beautiful stained glass windows designed and crafted by Veronica Whall during 1930 – 33. As the external light changes throughout the day, so do the colours shining through the stained glass into the Halls.
The galleries of The Hall of Chivalry contain ‘The Windows of the Knights’. Each Knight of the Round Table is illustrated by his unique shield depicted in the windows. By each window, the Knight’s story is told in words.
The Hall of Chivalry holds eighteen windows portraying the principal virtues which the Knights of the Round Table agreed to observe. In the Hall of Chivalry, these virtues are graded in quality, starting with the less spiritual ones such as Strength, Perseverance and Obedience, through to those considered more spiritual such as Purity, Faith and Love.
The large windows either end of the hall are reminiscent of the Pre –Raphaelite era and are referred to as the best post Pre – Raphaelite windows anywhere.
Veronica Mary Whall was born in 1887. Her father Christopher Whall was a stained glass expert who worked with William Morris in the Arts and Crafts movement. He taught at the London County Council School of Arts and Crafts, where Veronica became a pupil.
She helped out at the father’s workshop in Hammersmith and in 1922 they formed the company of Whall & Whall Limited, which produced stained glass windows until the 1950s, including many war memorials and ecclesiastical works.
Veronica retired in 1953 to a cottage in Huntingdonshire, looking after her dogs and goats until her death in 1967.
An illustrated booklet on the windows is available from King Arthur’s Great Halls.
about paintings and stained glass windows in the Halls reproduced
from information kindly supplied by The Sword in the Stone Limited.
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