Cowdray House, Midhust, West Sussex title banner, a history of a magnificent 16th Cent house, destroyed by fire in the late 18th Cent
Home & IntroductionLocation, Midhurst & AreaDestruction by Curse?Cowdray in RuinsAppendixTourPhoto Gallery

Chapel pre-fire


Great Staircase
A door in the northeast corner of the hall takes you into a small hallway in front of the great staircase. The large area taken up by the stair replaced a much smaller staircase on the same site. The stair, ascending in a clockwise direction, filled the entire area of 34ft x 17½ft. There used to be two tall windows in the north side, but these were filled in and covered with plaster on which were painted a series of fine paintings by Pellegrini.

The Chapel
To the south of the staircase, is the Chapel, even today, still instantly recognisable by its shape and the remaining plaster decorations on the walls. Like the hall and many of the rooms in this part of Cowdray, it was one of the first to be built. It started with an oblong plan and had three windows along the north and south sides and probably a large window in the east. When the staircase, to the north, was enlarged, two of the windows were bricked up and the square east end was extended further back to form a three-sided apse with three windows. Two more windows on the south side were blocked up and a deep bay in the southwest corner was made for an organ and gallery above, which extended across the back of the chapel. In the south wall there is a bricked up doorway that probably led to a vestry.

When the alterations were complete, the chapel measured 50ft long and 24ft wide, extended to 30ft under the organ gallery. The floor was paved with medieval tiles, and the length of the chapel was dived by a stuccoed arch, 16 inches thick. The sidewalls were covered by simple mahogany wainscoting up to height of 7ft and above this were elaborate seventeenth century plaster decorations. On the east side of the stuccoed arch, traces of where it joined the walls are still visible, were two full sized figures, a woman on the north and a man on the south. These are also clearly visible, though they have greatly deteriorated, as is some of the unusual plasterwork on the other side of the arch. This takes the form of imitation of closed panelled cupboard doors, even including the hinges!

There were several changes in altar design in the chapel. The earlier ones seem to have been quite small, but the last was so large that the centre window in the apse had to be bricked up. On the high altar-back was hung a painting of the Resurrection by Jacopo Amigoni and above it was an entablature surmounted by a cross. Above the whole was a flimsy canopy supported by four lofty poles.

Dining Parlour
Returning back through the hallway, past the staircase, you enter the Great Parlour, which was renamed as the Dining Parlour in the seventeenth century. Today it looks like an extension to the Buck Hall because most of the dividing wall has fallen. The room was 40ft long by 21ft wide and at its south, the east was has also fallen and so gives a poor impression of the room's former size and splendour. Along the walls ran wainscoting and plaster panels on which were painted in oil a fine series of historical paintings.

Next Page >>

top of page ^

Home & Introduction | Location, Midhurst & Area | Guide to Cowdray | Destruction by Curse? | Cowdray in Ruins | Appendix | Tour | Photo Gallery

© Nigel Sadler 1978 - 2008 | Business | anti-spam email: nigel at herriott-sadler dot co dot uk