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Frank Harding Chambers

Frank Harding Chambers commissioned Voysey to design and build his home, Priors Garth, at Puttenham near Guildford in Surrey in 1900. Chambers left the area before he could occupy the completed house and in 1901 it was let to Leonard Huxley for use as a school. Much extended and modified, it is now Prior's Field School.

Chambers was a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, with first class honours in mathematics. From 1890 to 1901 he held the post of Assistant Master at Charterhouse school in Godalming, and the Historic England database suggests that Voysey's wife Mary Maria (née Evans) had been his colleague there. Voysey is known to have met his wife in 1884 while she was working at a "preparatory school". However, Charterhouse (which at that time employed women as matrons and domestic staff but not as teachers) has no record of her and only takes pupils from the age of thirteen.

Chambers designed a string of very successful racing yachts at around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and in about 1898 he founded the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company. As a teacher of mathematics, he "understood how to manipulate the facets of yacht design, to enhance speed without attracting a heavy penalty from the rating formula".

From 1901 to 1911 Chambers served as headmaster of Lincoln Grammar School. He immediately identified the need for a new building and asked Voysey for a design. In the event the commission went instead to Leonard Stokes.

Chambers died in 1912 and his family commissioned a memorial (seen in the photographs) from Voysey for St Catherine's Church at Ludham in Norfolk. The memorial is now listed Grade II. The citation in part reads as follows:

Stone ashlar. Square-sectioned pillar with very slight batter terminating in the shape of a two-centred arched top with small flanking reliefs in the form of miniature bell-cast gables. Incised gouge-cut serif cross at top front and back in which traces of gold paint survive, marked off with similarly incised string from the very finely cut inscription below ... .

There is a drawing in the RIBA Archives (VOY 98).

The inscription begins as follows:

Frank Harding Chambers b Sep 11 1867 died at St + Remy de Provence + Feb 16 1912
Father I will that they also whom thou h[a]st given me be with me + where I am + certainly I will be with thee +
and Mary Alice + his wife ...

This is a modified version of verse John 17:24 in the King James Bible.

Frank Harding Chambers

Chambers memorial

Chambers memorial

Chambers memorial

Larger photograph of inscription (JPG, 240KB)

Photograph of Harding courtesy of Mike Barnes. Photographs of the memorial courtesy of Norman Ashton.

Page last amended 2nd August 2021