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.
Opened in 1889, for the Seventh Duke of Newcastle-Under-Lyne, the Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin at Clumber Park is no ordinary country house Chapel.
This magnificent ‘Cathedral in miniature’ certainly lives up to its nickname, being the same size as most Parish churches it is incredible to think it was commissioned to serve the Duke and his small family, even when taking into consideration that all those who lived and worked at Clumber Park were invited to attend services.
The Seventh Duke of Newcastle was a highly pious man, being part of the Victorian ‘Oxford Movement’ and being a great supporter of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England. The Duke also established a Choir School at the time of opening the Chapel where he paid for the education and accommodation of the boys in the choir until the age of 18.
After the demolition of Clumber House in 1938 the Chapel and Stableyard are all that remain to give us some impression of the scale and grandeur of this local Ducal treasure.
The Chapel was designed by some of the most eminent names in Victorian Gothic design of the period. The architect G.F.Bodley said after the project that designing the Chapel was one of his favourite projects, despite disagreement with the Duke that led to the two parting company mid-way through the project.
Real highlights of the Chapel are the stunning Charles Earmer Kempe stained glass windows. The building is designed so the sun moves along the South side of the building during the day, lighting up each window in turn and bringing out the bright colours of the glass and the ecclesiastical figures featured in each scene.
The ornate woodwork of the interiors was designed by Reverend Ernest Geldhart, who was heavily influenced by the design of European Catholic churches. Meticulously designed, carved and installed over the ten years following the Chapel’s opening the figures of Saint and Angels watch over today’s visitors as they would have the Duke and his contemporaries over a hundred years ago.
Designed to give an impression that the building is larger than it actually is the architectural trickery certainly is effective. The 180ft spire towers over the serene Pleasure Ground, echoed in the specimen heritage trees planted around the Chapel and leading towards Clumber Lake. Today a popular spot for walkers and groups of picnickers to gather, the grand Chapel keeps alive the memory of Clumber Park’s lost Ducal past.
After periods of closure, vital restoration work and maintenance, today with support from Worksop Priory services are held here every Sunday at 11:30am. For those eligible baptisms, marriages and funerals can 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 Saint Mary the Virgin is a must-see during your visit to Clumber Park, explore our history, take a moment to drink in the atmosphere, marvel at this beautiful building or join us at one of our services and performances throughout the year.
The Chapel is open between March - January every year.