St Mary’s Chapel, Snape Castle

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St Mary's Chapel, nestled within the historic Snape Castle, is a remarkable edifice with a rich tapestry of history that dates back to the 15th century. The chapel's origins are intertwined with the castle's, which was constructed as a manor house around 1430 by George Neville, after inheriting the land from his father, Ralph, Earl of Westmorland. Over the centuries, the chapel has witnessed significant events and transformations, reflecting the broader historical shifts of the region. Notably, in the early 16th century, the chapel is mentioned in connection with Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, who resided at Snape Castle during her marriage to John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer. The chapel's architecture and interior have undergone several changes, particularly in the 17th century when the Italian artist Antonio Verrio was commissioned to paint the ceiling. This artwork, however, was lost over time due to the chapel's use as a storage space for grain and straw, which led to significant damage. The plaster ceiling that replaced the original 15th-century roof before 1707 is a testament to the chapel's evolving function and aesthetic. Despite these changes, the chapel continued to serve as a place of worship and community gathering. In the 19th century, the chapel experienced a period of disuse and fell into disrepair, only to be restored in 1874, reflecting the Victorian era's interest in preserving and restoring historical buildings. Today, St Mary's Chapel remains a place of worship, with services held regularly, maintaining its role as a spiritual and historical landmark within the community. The chapel's journey from a private religious space within a noble residence to a public place of worship encapsulates the dynamic history of Snape Castle and its surroundings. Visitors to the chapel can still appreciate its historical significance and the remnants of its artistic past, despite the absence of Verrio's work, and it stands as a symbol of the enduring legacy of the region's rich heritage.

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