'One generation will commend your works to another' Psalm 145:4
Wycombe Abbey was founded as a Church of England school and Dame Frances Dove's aims for the School – the development of each student's talents, fostering an awareness of God and an understanding of the needs of others - remain cornerstones of our life together both in Chapel and across the wider curriculum and ex-curricular activities. Developing the spiritual life, the ability to discern truth and lasting values, and one's moral compass, conduct and sense of purpose are central to what it means to be a well educated person. Through their involvement in Chapel, girls are encouraged to develop a personal rhythm of life which will help sustain these things and, whilst Christian values and teaching are presented, each girl is encouraged to reflect upon them and apply them to her own life in a way that is consistent with her own faith and background.
From the very beginning the Chapel was intended to be an asset for all the pupils, staff and Seniors of Wycombe Abbey and it is both much used and much appreciated.
Anne Whitelaw, Headmistress from 1910 to 1925, was a passionate advocate of the need for a School Chapel. In one Speech Day address she said, “I long to be able to make you see the need of the quiet refreshment and inspiration that can come through the medium of a quiet chapel. I long to be able to add it to our lovely place here as its finest, most treasured possession, the finest because it will show…. that we in our generation placed what it stands for, the worship of God in Christ, as the most important, vital, the happiest and biggest thing in our life.”
The foundation stone was laid in July 1926 and the Chapel soon became an essential part of School life. It brings us together as whole school and helps to cultivate not only an understanding of core Christian teachings but also a spiritual and morally reflective approach to life. In 1986 the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Runcie, said of the School: ‘Its Chapel shall be its heartbeat'. Many have found this to be true and there is no doubt that it has enthused generation after generation to be true to the School motto 'Go Forth in Faith'.
Three times a week the School day begins with a brief service in Chapel. This takes the form of a hymn, a reading or thought for the day and prayers, which are followed by a period of silence; it is an important chance to begin a busy day with a period of quiet reflection. Our services offer an opportunity for the whole School to enjoy one another's gifts within the context of worship and to develop leadership and confidence. Over the year all pupils have a chance to help conduct services, often with their Houses.
On most Sundays, sermons are given by visiting preachers from a variety of different church backgrounds and areas of expertise. There is the opportunity to meet afterwards over coffee and discuss the issues which arise in Sunday forums. Parents are most welcome to attend. When there is a closed weekend, at the beginning of the School year, for example, the whole School attends Chapel for the Sunday service. Holy Communion is offered every Sunday. During Sunday services we frequently hear sermons by distinguished speakers.
Provision can be made for the observance of religious festivals and requirements. The Chaplain is keen to facilitate those of all religious traditions who wish to explore their faith and there are opportunities for girls to do this through the week. These include:
Confirmations are held annually at school for those in LV and any who wish to be confirmed at a later date
Provision is made for pupils to attend Mass at the local parish church,
St Augustine's if they wish and every other year we hold a Roman Catholic confirmation service in school for which the girls are prepared, usually in their UIV or LV years. A Catholic Society led by two members of staff also meets monthly for a meal and discussion.
The Christian Union is ecumenical and meets weekly for discussion, Bible study and talks from outside speakers. There is also a Junior Fisher Society for the UIIIs
We hold a fortnightly Jewish education class offered as a paid extra and aimed at providing a forum for Jewish girls at Wycombe Abbey to get together and share time together. This is an informal led discussion session with a Jewish educator covering anything from moral and social issues to current affairs that affect us as Jews. It is also provides a chance to light Hanukkah candles together or make masks for Purim for example, to catch the flavour of Jewish festivals within the routine of the school calendar.
This meets monthly and is a supper and discussion forum led by two Muslim members of staff.
Please contact the School Chaplain for further information.
The School Chaplain is on duty throughout the term and is available for discussion on all matters of concern ,irrespective of a pupil's personal faith and not only for spiritual issues. The Chapel is open during the day and is locked up for the night at about 8.30pm. Girls are welcome to use it at any time. There is a side Chapel where there is a ‘votive' candle stand so that they may light a candle and say a prayer. On the altar there is a book for them to write prayers in and this book is placed on the main altar on Sunday as an ‘offering' of the prayers to God as part of the main service. There is an attached vestry which can be used by girls if they wish to be alone for prayer, contemplation or for any other reason.