Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Help the Wardour Chapel

In 1770 the Lord Arundell, following the sale of the family house at Panton Street in London and of Ashcombe Estate in Wiltshire, started to build New Wardour Castle to replace the old castle which had suffered such severe damage in the Civil Wars that the family had not been able to live in it, since. The Chapel was incorporated into the Mansion of which it forms the West wing and, therefore, from the outside, there is no indication of its existence. The reason for this is that, at this time, over 50 years before the Catholic Emancipation Act, Catholics were still subject to penal laws which forbade the construction of a Catholic church as a separate building.

It was the first new Chapel built since the Reformation, open for public worship, that met these restrictions. Wardour Chapel is beautifully decorated and was opened by Bishop Walmesley, the Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, on November 1st, 1776, with ecclesiastical ceremonial not seen by Catholics in England since the Reformation.The Chapel is semi-circular at both ends and measures 95 feet long, 40 feet wide and 40 feet high; it can seat a congregation of over 300.

Mass is celebrated in the chapel under both forms – the Novus Ordo for the parish on Sundays, and monthly in the Usus Antiquior. The Sanctuary remains as originally ordered, so all Masses are celebrated ‘ad orientem’.  The above images in this post reflect Mass said using the 1962 Missal.  These photographs show an Old Rite Mass celebrated for the Order of Malta, which holds an annual Day of Recollection at Wardour.  On this occasion, the altar cards were away for repair. 

The Wardour Chapel is in need of financial help.  I quote from a recent document issued by the Friends of Wardour Chapel:

The chapel has been owned by a trust (Charity Registration Number 224234) since 1898 and is entirely dependent on donations as no endowment was made when the trust was established.

Over recent years, financial constraints have prevented the trustees from undertaking any significant maintenance tasks.  However, some things cannot be put off any longer, and the trustees have therefore decided to establish The Friends of Wardour Chapel with the simple aim of generating an annual income which will help to achieve the task of keeping this great chapel open for worship.

The annual running costs of the chapel, before maintenance, are in the region of £15,000 and it is becoming increasingly clear that these costs are beyond the resources of the local congregation.  The Friends program seeks to raise funds towards these costs, for identified building and repair projects, and to build a sinking fund for future works.

Currently the chapel is open to the public twice a week and is in regular use as an important part of the parish of Tisbury and Wardour.   Services are celebrated every Sunday (11am) and Tuesday (9.15am).  In addition, there is a thriving state primary school at Wardour, and the pupils attend the chapel on Tuesdays during term time.  It is of great benefit to the students of the school to be able to experience this magnificent building and its treasures as a regular part of their education, and it is therefore of on-going significance to the spiritual life of the local community.

In addition to the fabric of the building, the Wardour Chapel Trust is responsible for the very fine contents of the chapel and the sacristy: vestments, silver and several large and notable continental paintings.  All this is in increasing need of conservation work.  The trustees believe that these items should remain at the chapel, to be used as intended by those who made and gave them, rather than be added to a museum collection. However, ongoing conservation and repairs are essential.

The Friends of Wardour Chapel is being established to provide the opportunity to help in a material way to ensure that this Grade I listed architectural gem remains open and active for future generations.  The trustees believe that this should be of wider concern than the local community, and are therefore asking for benefactors to consider becoming Friends: membership costs £8 per month or, for those who prefer, £95 per year, payable by standing order.

Friends of Wardour Chapel, will be invited to the annual Friends’ Open Day on a Saturday near to 1st November – the Chapel’s patronal feast of All Saints – as well as to other events which we hope to arrange at other times of the year.  The Open Day will begin with Holy Mass for those who wish to attend, offered for the intentions of the Friends past and present.  Some of the important ecclesiastical silver and the extraordinary collection of vestments, with their outstanding late medieval embroidered orphreys, will be on display.  This collection of vestments is one of the most significant in the country.  The Open Day will also provide the opportunity to listen to the wonderful organ, built for the chapel in 1791 by Samuel Green.
Please visit the website for the Wardour Chapel and consider becoming a Friend or making a one-time donation.  I recently altered the Chapel that their form is not set up for Americans.  I have been told that a form should be available in the coming days especially designed for those with American addresses.  For more information, please visit Wardour Chapel

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