Everingham Hall Chapel, 

Yorkshire

In 2017, the Historic Houses Foundation gave a first grant to Everingham Hall Chapel in Yorkshire to establish the parameters of a proposed restoration. Now further funds will repair the roof and walls.

 

Expressing Catholicism in stucco

 

Don’t be misled by the plain stucco exterior of the chapel of St Mary and St Everilda at Everingham in East Yorkshire; inside it is breathtaking.  The new Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 allowed William Constable Maxwell, Lord Herries to express his catholic faith in public for the first time and he clearly wanted to spare no expense. The chapel was dedicated jointly to the Virgin Mary and a local saint, St Everilda, a Saxon princess from Wessex who founded and ran a convent of 80 nuns at Everingham in the mid-7th century. Catholicism went underground in East Yorkshire after the Reformation but never really disappeared; the area had some of the highest rates of recusancy in the country in the 18th century.

 

New light for St Everilda

 

To celebrate his newfound freedom of worship, Lord Herries chose an Italianate neo-classical style for his new chapel. He employed the Italian architect Agostino Giorgioli to rise to the challenge of designing a building that filled the space next to Everingham Hall, a quietly elegant brick house built by John Carr of York nearly a century earlier. The result is a vast, lofty edifice where tall Corinthian columns carry the eye to the barrel-vaulted roof.  The columns have white marble bases and fluted shafts in scagliola, while a touch of gilding on the capitals fills the building with golden light.  Niches with statues of saints, including St Everilda and the twelve Apostles, line the nave and apse, below bas relief panels with scenes from the Life of Christ by Luigi Bozzoni of Carrara.  Lord Herries finished his chapel with an English organ by Charles Allen in a fine mahogany case which makes the most of the acoustics.

 

Urgent repairs

 

The lead roof of the chapel is showing its age and the ingress of water has caused damage to the plasterwork of the walls. The condition survey funded by the first round of Historic Houses Foundation grant aid identified this work as the most urgent and the new funds allow the repairs to take place immediately. Work should be complete in time for St Everilda’s next feast day on 9 July 2020.

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