The Private Chapel

Today’s Daily Telegraph reports on an unique garden gift – unique in this day and age, anyway: a man who built a chapel for his wife. Mr. and Mrs. Richards are residents of Worcestershire, a lovely, green part of England where I was fortunate enough to spend some time a few years ago. Both the Richards are devout church-goers, but Mrs. Richards complained that their local Anglican church was too “busy” and crowded. So as one does, Mr. Richards embarked on a 2 1/2 year process of building his wife a small Gothic Revival chapel, about 12 feet long by 8 feet wide, at the bottom of their back garden.

Private chapels such as this used to be de rigueur for a house of any decent size. One thinks of the stunning Baroque wedding cake of a chapel at Castle Howard that features in the BBC version of “Brideshead”, for example, or Giotto’s Arena Chapel for the Scrovegni family in Padua. At the more modestly-scaled country house of one of my cousins in Spain, I attended mass in a somewhat larger chapel (including a choir loft and a rounded apse with ambulatory) built in Romanesque style, complete with a small bell tower.

Mr. Richards’ example shows us, however, that a private chapel does not have to be a construction any larger than a substantial garden shed or greenhouse. Those of my readers who have both the religious devotion and the architectural interest for such a project, could spend some profitable and fun hours thinking up how they themselves could build or convert a small building on their property for just such a purpose. Even redesigning a small, underused room or storage area inside the house into an oratory could yield some truly beautiful results.

Mr. and Mrs. Richards (and furry feline friend) before the
Chapel of the Twelve Crosses, in Worcestershire, England

4 thoughts on “The Private Chapel

  1. >I applaud their private chapel, but the part of your entry that really struck me is that their “local Anglican church was too busy” and crowed”, in their view.Given the real decline in the Anglican and Episcopal churches everywhere outside of Africa, that’s a very surprising statement.


  2. >I love this! Actually, my parents looked a house once in Napa that had a private chapel. But the hallways had this hideous 1960’s foil wallpaper, Mom just couldn’t get past it, so we didn’t buy…


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