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Visiting the Chapel of St Mary the Virgin at Clumber Park

Looking across an expanse of grass towards the Chapel at Clumber Park
Chapel of St Mary the Virgin, Clumber Park | © Jill Meeds

The 19th century Chapel of St Mary the Virgin is a must-see during your visit to Clumber Park. Explore the history, take a moment to drink in the atmosphere of this beautiful building, or enjoy one of the services and performances throughout the year.

The Chapel is actually the third at Clumber Park. The first, inside the house, was destroyed by fire. The second, started by the 6th Duke of Newcastle, was abandoned after his death, apparently because it was structurally unsound. The third, however, eclipsed all earlier attempts, and today towers over the Pleasure Grounds.

Taking three years to build, and opening in 1889 for the 7th Duke, the Chapel of St Mary the Virgin at Clumber Park is no ordinary country house chapel.

This impressive ‘cathedral in miniature’ certainly lives up to its nickname, being the same size as most parish churches and yet commissioned only to serve the Duke and his small family. Those who lived and worked on the estate were also invited to attend services here.

The Chapel's design

The chapel was designed by some of the most eminent names in Victorian Gothic design of the period. The architect George Frederick 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 build.

Looking up to the roof inside the Chapel
Inside the Chapel of St Mary the Virgin at Clumber Park | © Steve Bradley

Highlights of the chapel

The Gray and Davison Organ

Elaborate and almost on a par with a cathedral organ, it contains 2,180 pipes and has three keyboards.

The Lady Chapel

This lavish side Chapel includes an unusual Russian icon of Mary and the baby Jesus, gifted by the people of Georgia, c.1892.

Painted glass windows

The painted glass windows by Charles Eamer Kempe are a real highlight of the chapel. The building was designed so that the sun moves along the south side of the chapel during the day, lighting up each window in turn and bringing out the bright colours of the glass and the figures featured in each scene.

The seven grotesques

Each one represents one of the seven deadly sins.

The altar

Topped by Frosterley marble, a black limestone that contains 350 million year old fossilised corals.

Decorative woodwork

Meticulously designed by Reverend Ernest Geldhart, the ornate woodwork of the interiors was carved and installed over the ten years following the chapel’s opening. Figures of saints and angels watch over today’s visitors as they would have done when the Duke and his contemporaries worshipped here over a hundred years ago.

Architectural trickery

Clever design features give the impression that the Chapel is larger than it actually is. The 180 foot spire towers over the Pleasure Grounds below, and is echoed in the heritage trees planted around the Chapel and leading towards Clumber Lake.

Fascinating fact

When the Chapel was being built, a casket was buried in the foundations. It contained a copy of 'The Times' newspaper, nine different Victorian coins and a written parchment telling anyone who may come across it in the future when the Chapel was built and who built it.

Worshipping at St Mary's

After periods of closure, vital restoration work and maintenance, today with support from Worksop Priory, services are held here every Sunday at 11.30.

Performances and occasions

We invite interest from groups wishing to hold Evensong, choral recitals and play the organ.

For those eligible, baptisms, marriages and funerals can be held in the Chapel.

To see our full calendar of events, click here.

For more information, please contact the team at Clumber Park.

Conservation Deep Clean

Each year, the Chapel closes it's doors to the public while the team undertake a vital conservation clean. This allows them to get to the high-up and low-down places that can't be accessed while the Chapel is open.

The next winter clean will take place from early January - early March 2025.

Opening times

The Chapel is open 7 days a week from 10.00 - 17.00.

Family looking over the lake at Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire with the eighteenth century classical bridge in the background.

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