IG Masonry Support: Radley College Chapel

  • 15 Nov 2022

Founded in 1847, Radley College is one of the country’s most esteemed independent public schools and IG Masonry Support provided six, sectional brick slip masonry support arches.

The college’s Grade-II listed chapel is the site’s spiritual centre, being it’s the only place where the whole school can congregate for daily services. As part of an elaborate expansion, the chapel recently underwent a refurbishment that included the building of a sanctuary.

To augment this stunning new architectural feature, an octagonal plan form and roof lantern created from self-supporting curved structural glass featured as part of the design. The expanded chapel delivered an additional 207 seats to increase its total seating capacity to 807. 

The approach to the new sanctuary’s octagonal plan form features a series of stone and rubbed brock arches. For these elegant structures, which lead from openings specifically created from within the chapel’s nave, IG Masonry Support provided six, sectional brick slip masonry support arches.


These bespoke designed solutions not only facilitated the inclusion of some intricate brick detailing to meet the architect’s imaginative design, they ensured a time and cost-efficient installation beyond the capability of traditional brickwork techniques. 

The Challenge  

Selected for the project on account of the company’s expertise in the supply of prefabricated sectional arches, IG Masonry Support was nonetheless confronted with a number of conundrums due to the programme’s size and complexity.

The sectional brick slip masonry support arches were required for two elements of the college chapel refurbishment: four new apse openings, and two ante sanctuary brick arches where an end wall intersected the existing chapel walls. For IG Masonry Support, the four apse openings presented a challenge due to the varied wall thicknesses.


Each apse arch had to fit between two kicker stones which differed in height, resulting in IG Masonry Support’s design team having to work to tight tolerances and size variations in two planes. All four arches were a variety of widths, with different wall thicknesses on each side also needing to be taken into account.

Challenges also came in the form of the arches’ elevation, which needed to match the small radius vertically and the join that intersected them. Furthermore, the apex of each arch had to be the same size and level despite the variance of surrounding components. 

The Solution  

To meet the application’s requirements, which needed to be unerringly precise due to the tight tolerances and size variances of the arches and surrounding structure, IG Masonry Support bespoke designed and manufactured each sectional brick slip masonry support arch. The process was complex and due to its non-standard nature, required a methodical, yet innovative approach.

The support arches needed to blend seamlessly with the existing chapel and extension in a form that was beyond traditional bricklaying techniques. IG Masonry Support’s success in meeting its intricate brief is testament to its experience and expertise in delivering brick slip solutions for projects of all size and purpose.

The expanded college chapel has not only enhanced the historic building’s grandeur and capacity, the refurbishment has been nominated for three industry awards: the Construction Excellence SECBE Awards (Conservation and Regeneration category), the Brick Development Association Brick Awards (Education category) and the OxPropFest Awards (Project of the Year category). 

Karl Devlin FIOC, Site Manager at Beard Construction, says: “This was a truly magnificent project. It was a one-off build in a superb location – we felt privileged to help bring it to fruition. Andy Sharlot, Chief Designer at IG Masonry Support, had a great influence on the project’s success.

“His technical knowledge and expertise made for an enjoyable working experience, which for such a challenging project, proved to be a real bonus.”

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