As early as 1725 the Earl of Oxford found the ceiling much deteriorated. The storage of grain and rape-seed in the chapel then hastened the degeneration of the painting to a point of total destruction through what one newspaper report in 1888 describes as ‘the peeling and crumbling away of the ceiling’. Even as late as the first years of the twentieth century angels bearing shields could still be seen, together with several other figures from the twelfth chapter of Revelation including the woman clothed with the sun and her child, St Michael and the dragon and God.
The Snape Chapel ceiling scene represented ‘Wonder and War in Heaven’ – Revelation 12,7.
This ceiling was formerly a particular feature but now only imagination can picture the spectacular display this once was as only faint traces of the picture now remain. Other work by Verrio may be seen at Burghley House, the home of the Cecil family, near Stamford.
The History of The Castle and the Chapel - page 3
Above the altar the east window, reported to be nineteenth-century Clayton and Bell, features stained glass depicting the Ascension.
The two figures carved in wood on each side represent St Peter on the left of the window and St Paul on the right holding a sword, ‘the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God’, as referred to by St Paul in Ephesians 6, verse 17.
The carved reredos behind the altar has five panels illustrating (from left to right) the Last Supper, Christ carrying the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. This reredos was acquired by the Milbank family at Thorp Perrow when the enormous collection of important carvings from continental churches amassed at Scarisbrick Hall, Southport, by Charles Scarisbrick, was sold off
And still in use today! The chapel is owned by the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds having been acquired by them in 1926 as a Chapel of Ease to the parish church (St Michael’s, Well) and regular services are still held.
This history is produced with grateful acknowledgment to Sir Anthony Milbank, Bart, for permission to quote from records in the Milbank family archives.
The front picture is reproduced by kind permission of Cecilia Parkinson from one of her original drawings
With thanks to David Kirby for relevant information 2005.