As part of my calling, I was drawn to build a chapel – despite not being a member of the Orthodox church it seemed extremely important that a chapel be built. There are of course many other reasons to build a private chapel; there is not always a church nearby – especially within Orthodoxy, so it becomes a useful commodity. That’s not to say an icon corner isn’t perfectly suitable for private prayer – I have retained mine within my cell for personal prayer and convenience.
I had in my head a plan of how it was to look, which I transferred to paper in a crude design (please note that the kneeler and pews were added to demonstrate the size of the nave).
I was fortunate to have a large, alcove-like space that was near-perfect for the sanctuary – with supporting walls at each side, it made building much easier. Of course, one must make the most out of the space available which may create more or less building work.
Using hemlock spindles and MDF pre-cut with a fleurs-de-lis pattern (which were subsequently stained using a dark oak coloured stain), we went about constructing a basic rood screen (Iconostasis). The screen separates the Holy (sanctuary) from the secular (nave), so it was essential that it reached at least six feet in height and created a solid enough barrier yet allowed the congregation to actually see the priest and the altar.
After two lower screen sections were built, the next stage was to construct the upper section of the screen. For this, we used a long piece of [cheap] timber for the ceiling support beam and large dowel rods which were inserted into holes that were drilled into the beams. This created a continuation from the top beam right down to the floor.
Finally, through a very kind donation of an altar top, candles and hard work from Fr. Michael and Sr. Margaret – we completed chapel by adding suitable legs to the altar, adding an Orthodox-correct cross, thurrible, lamps, Theotokos and matching Pantocrator icons, candles, a credence table, altar cloths, altar frontal, and lectern. When not in use, the chapel is concealed using a curtain that matches the surrounding walls.
Thanks so much to God, Fr. Michael, Sr. Margaret and Malcolm – without whom, this wouldn’t have been possible.
This configuration can also be altered for use in temporary chapels – please contact me to discuss designs and costs if you would like screen sections like these built for your own chapel.