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a life in architecture

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Every inch a Yorkshireman, Richard Whiteley is practically synonymous with Channel 4's Countdown. He is in no doubt about his favourite building. It is the the chapel (pictured) at Giggleswick School, the green copper dome of which dramatically dominates the surrounding Ribblesdale countryside.

'It is', says Whiteley, 'a unique Byzantine structure designed by T G Jackson and completed in 1901.' He calls Jackson, 'the Norman Foster of his day'. The chapel was a gift from Walter Morrison, member of parliament at the time, and cost £84,000. The dome is currently undergoing restoration because 'the copper was becoming too thin, like a Kit-Kat wrapper'. Jackson wrote in his Recollections: 'I was determined to show that domes and Gothic architecture are not incompatible, though I shocked purists, I am not dissatisfied with the result.'

Whiteley also loves the building because it is part of his family history - his father was a pupil at Giggleswick. He remembers clearly the first time he saw the chapel in the 1950s. 'From some angles it looks stark, but from across the school cricket field it looks lovely and cosy and warm and inviting. Because of its position on a knoll, you climb upwards to it - there's a feeling of being nearer to God.' He also enthuses about the interior, which seats about 300 people. He loves the 'theatricality' of it, the beautiful music, the fine Willis organ. 'The pews are made of cedar of Lebanon.'

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