Architectural Features: Hidden Heritage
The Chapel was built as a simple structure, and had new doors and a roof constructed in the 16th Century. The roof is not easily accessible, however, as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded Project, we have documented this hidden feature which we consider to be of great importance as one of the last surviving examples in England.
We discovered a hidden trap door in the roof- covered from view in the meeting room below. Above is a small pulley wheel. We have not yet discovered why it was put in, or when.
The Roof, now partly concealed, is of six bays with trusses of hammer-beam type but without collar-beams; the side-posts have moulded pendants and the wall-posts terminate in carved heads; from the wall-posts spring curved brackets to the hammer-beams; the principal rafters cross at the apex, and resting on them is an outer pair of principals which support the purlins.
The Forbury Faces are believed to represent saints, although we have been unable to find any historical references to this, or indeed, whoever carved them.
Carved at the base of each of the roof trusses, there are 8 in total, looking at today's visitors. Some can be seen in the main hall, however, some are tucked away and hidden from view in upstairs offices and behind the library books.
Visit our photo gallery to see more carved faces
The date of the Forbury Chapel doors and ironwork has not been established as yet, as they may have been repalced and/or repaired throughout the centuries.