St Catharine’s College Chapel

Chair and Prie-Dieu – Photograph (PWDRO 116/92); 1933-45

This commission for a chair and prie-dieu (prayer desk) would have come through Revd Henry Chaytor, husband of Violet’s sister Mary Rashleigh, when he was Master of St Catharine’s College between 1933 and 1945 (Chaytor, 1990). Both the chair and the prie-dieu bear the spiked wheel emblematic of St Catharine. In addition, the pri-dieu features a shield with a large ‘C’ in which sits ‘ST’, indicating St Catharine. Another shield bears arms believed to have been used by the founder of St Catharine’s, Robert Woodlark, showing a fleur de lys and lion, though research indicates they are probably spurious (Elizabeth Ennion-Smith, College Archivist, pers. comm.). Enquiries to the College revealed initially that the pieces were no longer in the chapel and their whereabouts unknown. A search by the College Archivist resulted in their discovery in a storeroom, although the prie-dieu has been sawn off about 30cm from the base, probably to create a desk top lectern. Photographs of the pieces were willingly supplied.


Chaytor, E. (1990) Ermington Days. Melinga Publishing, North Cheam.

PWDRO 116/92 Photograph. Cambridge St Catharine’s College. Chair and Prie-Dieu.