Snape Castle Chapel
Snape Castle Chapel
Once owned by Richard III and associated with Katherine Parr, the chapel and castle date from the early 15th century. The half-ruined castle is not accessible to the public, but visitors are welcome at the chapel.
The first castle at Snape was a 13th century hall, supported on timber piles sunk into the boggy ground. Late in the 13th century the Neville family acquired Snape through marriage. The medieval manor was destroyed around 1420 and replaced with a castellated house by George Neville, Lord of Snape and Danby.

When Lord George died, his son Richard was still a minor, so the castle became crown property under Richard III. Richard Neville's son John, the 3rd Lord Latimer of Snape, was Katherine Parr's second husband, and Katherine probably lived at Snape much of her married life. Katherine, of course, would eventually marry Henry VIII after Lord John's death. A long-standing legend says that a young woman with golden hair, dressed in a blue Tudor dress, has been seen numerous times at Snape Castle, and one theory is that the ghostly figure might be that of Katherine Parr.

From the Nevilles the castle passed to the Cecil family through marriage. The Cecils, had their own family seat at Burghley, in Lincolnshire, so Snape eventually fell out of favour.

The castle chapel is first recorded in the early years of the 15th century. It is located on an upper floor on the south side of the castle, approached by way of an external stair leading to another internal stair and then to the chapel itself. A small vestry is at the top of the stair, and links to a passage from the castle (now blocked).

The chapel was renovated around 1720, but by the late 18th century it had fallen into disuse and was used as a storage area for grain and rapeseed. Then in 1802 William Millbank scavenged panelling from the castle itself to furnish the castle.

The highlight at Snape is the painted ceiling, created by the Italian artist Antonio Verrio. Sometime before 1707 the 15th century chapel roof was removed, to be replaced by a plaster ceiling. Then Verrio was called in to paint a fresco on the new plasterwork. Verrio also worked on Burghley House for the Cecil family. The chapel ceiling is very worn and has suffered badly over the years when the chapel served as a grain store.

The large east window above the altar has stained glass by the London firm of Clayton and Bell. Even more impressive is the reredos, beautifully carved with Biblical scenes. The reredos was purchased by the Millbank family of Thorp Perrow from a collection of European church carving collected at Scarisbrick Hall in Southport.

The chapel was purchased by the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds in 1926 as a chapel of ease for the church of St Michael at Well. Regular services are still held here and visitors are welcome every day. Snape Castle Chapel is an excellent example of a Pre-Reformation private chapel.