The Chapel of St Mary the Virgin

Chapel

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.

It was built between 1886-89 by the Duke, a devout and dedicated churchman who was strongly affected by the Anglo-Catholic movement within the Church of England.

Having succeeded to his title while still a boy at Eton, one of his first actions upon attaining his majority was to erect this new chapel at Clumber, which he did both as an act of devotion and so as to create a model church for Catholic worship.

The Chapel and visitor facilities at Christmas
The Chapel and visitor facilities at Christmas

The Duke commissioned the most respected late Victorian firm of church designers, Bodley and Garner. Bodley later regarded the Chapel as one of his favourite works, partly due to him being able to pursue his ideals of refinement and beauty in Gothic design.

Clumber Chapel is a remarkable expression of the intimate connection between the Gothic Revival and the nineteenth-century Catholic revival within the Church of England. Bodley shared the Duke's religious outlook, but the Duke was independent-minded and occasionally quarrelsome, and as a result, the Chapel was partly furnished by other late Victorian ecclesiastical designers, including J.N Comper and Rev. Ernest Geldart.

Clumber Chapel is not only a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture and a remarkable example of aristocratic patronage, it is also a monument to Victorian piety and representative of a particularly influential strand in Victorian life.

Chapel at Clumber Park
Chapel

The style of the architecture is a sensitive re-interpretation of English Gothic of the fourteenth century, with window tracery patterns of the Flowing Decorated variety. The distinctive 180ft spire, rising out of an octagonal corona above the crossing tower, is a development of the design of the tower and spire of the medieval parish church at Patrington in Yorkshire. All architectural details at Clumber depend closely upon medieval examples, yet they contribute to an overall design which is unprecedented. 

The chapel is 137 feet in length from west to east, yet the impression given is one of great size and height. Bodley achieved this by the multiplicity and careful placing of small details, by breaking the length of the building with the elaborate rood screen and, above all, by giving the interior considerable height relative to its width.

It is a fantastic, atmospheric, special place with hundreds of stories to tell, and is a must-see when visiting Clumber Park.

The Chapel is open between March - January every year.