The Chapel of St Mary the Virgin
The chapel at Clumber Park is no ordinary country house chapel, rather it is an independent building of the size and proportions of a large parish church, and one of considerable elaboration which was raised and furnished at prodigious expense by the 7th Duke of Newcastle.
The Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin at Clumber Park was built between 1886-89, commissioned by the Seventh Duke of Newcastle-Under-Lyne.
The Duke was a devout and dedicated churchman who was strongly affected by the Anglo-Catholic movement within the Church of England. Today the Chapel and the Stableyard complex leave us with some impression of how grand the ducal Clumber House would have been before its demolition in 1938.
The Duke commissioned the respected Victorian design firm, Bodley and Garner. George Frederick Bodley later regarded the Chapel as one of his favorite works, partly due to him being able to pursue his ideals of refinement and beauty in Gothic design.
The Chapel is designed to make the most of the natural light, with the sun running across the south side of the building. In the morning rays of light shine on the altar at the East end of the Chancel then moving to light up the stunning Charles Eamer Kempe stained glass windows in turn.
The ornate wooden rood screen, iron gates and hanging lamps were designed by Bodley with the iron work being made on site by the estate’s own blacksmiths. The majority of the rest of the highly ornate woodwork was designed by Reverend Ernest Geldhart, who was heavily influenced by Catholic churches in Europe. The lime wood figures of Saints and Angels in the Chancel are particularly fine examples of Geldhart’s design.
The chapel has a distinctive 180ft spire and is 137 feet in length from west to east, yet the impression given is one of greater size and height. This gives rise to the Chapel’s nickname; the ‘Cathedral in Miniature’. The deliberate, cohesive design of the building and its contents ensures that this building is thought of as one of the great English Victorian Gothic churches and a truly splendid, unique private Chapel reflecting Clumber Park’s lost Ducal days.
Upon its establishment the Seventh Duke invited all who lived and worked on the estate to worship in the Chapel, wishing for everyone to be able to share in his devotion should they want to. Today the Chapel takes on more the form of parish church than private Chapel, with thanks to support from Worksop Priory services are held here every Sunday at 11:30am. For those eligible baptisms, marriages and funerals can even be held in the Chapel. For more information please contact our Chapel & Collections officer Ellen Ryan on 01909 544909 or email: Ellen.Ryan@nationaltrust.org.uk.
The Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin is a fantastic, atmospheric, special place with hundreds of stories to tell, and is a must-see during your visit to Clumber Park.
The Chapel is open between March - January every year.