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The Chapel of St Paul Stansted

On this site was the medieval house that developed from a hunting lodge built by the Fitzalans in the Forest of Arundel. It was ruined in the Civil War, and in 1686-8 a new house was built on the present site by newly-ennobled Richard Lumley, Lord Scarborough,whose grandfather married a Fitzalan heiress. The old hall was described in the 18th century as ‘once the mansion of the Earls of Arundel, now degraded to the stables and barns of a more modern seat’.

Its west end is 15th century brickwork, although parts of the north wall in flint and stone are earlier. It was converted to a place of worship in neo-gothic style by The Rev. Lewis Way, who purchased Stansted Park in 1804. Way believed God had told him to reunite the Jewish and Christian faiths and, following an unexpected inheritance he determined to found a mission college at Stansted. The unique, painted east window of the Chapel was commissioned by Way to embody his aspirations, and is believed to be the only window in a Christian church with Jewish symbolism.

When the Chapel was consecrated in early 1819, John Keats, staying nearby at Warblington, attended the service and was inspired to write verse describing the atmosphere and the window in The Eve of St Mark.

In the 1920s the 9th Earl commissioned H.S. Goodhart-Rendel to restore the Chapel and decorate the sanctuary inspired by Sainte Chapelle in Paris, with its gilding and star-studded blue ceiling. After a German aircraft crashed on the cricket ground during the Battle of Britain, blowing out the Chapel windows, it was again restored and new heraldic stained glass arms of the former owners of Stansted were added.

This article is provided courtesy of Stansted Foundation who retains the copyright.