The interior of the 140-year-old chapel at Castle Howard – made famous by film and TV adaptations of Brideshead Revisited – can now be seen in all its glory, thanks to a new environmentally friendly lighting system.
The Howard family chapel features painted frescos, with designs by Charles Eamer Kempe, and stained glass windows by Edward Burne Jones.
They sit proudly alongside gilded and fluted columns and under a high, coffered ceiling based on Holbein’s design for the Royal Chapel in St James’s Palace. Decorated by Morris & Co, the Anglican chapel was commissioned by Edward Howard, the younger brother of the 8th Earl of Carlisle.
The elaborate design which incorporates Aesthetic and Arts & Crafts style influences as well as pre-Raphaelite, is so reminiscent of a Catholic place of worship, it featured as the Marchmain family chapel in the adaptations of Brideshead Revisited.
“It has long been an ambition of mine to light the chapel, but it had to be done sympathetically to showcase the magnificent decoration,” said The Hon Simon Howard. “It was also important that the lighting was environmentally friendly, as well as economic; I am delighted with the results and the success of the project.
“The chapel has always featured in the house tour, but it has been unguided. This year, for the first time, we are guiding the chapel to share with visitors the intricate detail and amazing stories. We hope it becomes a highlight for many.”
Taking over a month to complete, the new lighting fixtures have been placed to provide visitors with a better opportunity to examine the architectural and design detail, which would previously have gone unnoticed including elaborate patterns of flower-spangled meadows, Celtic scripts and gilt detailing.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the chapel and learn about its history and the detail of the decorations.
There will also be a programme of live music, including school choirs.
Pre-Raphaelite talks by Castle Howard curator Dr Christopher Ridgway will also be launched in 2014.