Building » Spetchley – St John the Baptist

Spetchley – St John the Baptist

Spetchley Park, Spetchley, Worcestershire WR5

The Berkeley family of Spetchley Park has maintained the Catholic faith since the 1690s, and for many years was served by Jesuit priests, latterly from Worcester. The chapel is contained within the neoclassical mansion built in 1811 for Robert Berkeley from designs of the Catholic architect John Tasker. It is a fine neoclassical space with some nineteenth century enrichment in the sanctuary. The house lies within extensive parkland. 

The Spetchley Park estate was purchased by Rowland Berkeley, a wealthy wool merchant and banker, in 1606 and is still Berkeley property. The house was burnt by Parliamentarians after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and the family then lived in the stables until a new mansion was built by Robert Berkeley in 1811. His architect was John Tasker of London, himself a Catholic and with many Catholic clients. The new house was designed from the beginning to contain a substantial chapel. From 1694 to 1790 the chaplaincy at Spetchley was supplied by the Jesuits.  In 1791 Robert Berkeley registered his chapel as a place of public worship and thereafter the chaplains were secular priests. In 1940 the chaplaincy was discontinued and the chapel was then served by Jesuits from St George, Worcester. In 1977 the Society withdrew its services and the chapel is now nominally served from St George, Worcester (actually by a retired priest resident in the house).


The house is a substantial neoclassical building of Bath stone, with a portico on the narrow west front and a long south front facing the gardens. The eastern part of the house is occupied by the chapel, which rises to full height and runs nearly the whole depth of the building, with the sanctuary to the south. The chapel is contained entirely within the envelope of the main house, with a public entrance at the (liturgical) west end). It is a rectangular space with plastered walls, four rectangular windows with shutters in the long east side and a flat coved ceiling. Between the windows and on the west wall opposite are raised panels with moulded borders. At the north end (liturgical west end) over the entrance door is a balustraded timber gallery on heavy brackets.  The sanctuary occupies the south (liturgical east) bay and the south end wall has a blank ‘Venetian’ motif with a segmental arch on fluted Ionic columns. In the side bays flanking the altar are doorways with carved overdoors. The doors are grained and both the dado of the sanctuary and the heavy altar rails are marbled. The space beneath the segment central arch has been further enriched with stencil decoration. The sanctuary retains its pre-Vatican II arrangements; there is no forward altar and the balustraded communion rails remain in situ. The sanctuary window contains memorial stained glass in the style of Hardman. The nave seating consists of plain open-backed pine benches.

List description (House, including chapel)


1811. Architect John Tasker. Ashlar built mansion with giant tetra style Ionic portico with entablature and pediment containing armorial carving in relief; wide deep flight of steps. The doorcase has a stone hood on consoles. 2-storeys. 5 sash windows in moulded architraves. Side pilasters with moulded caps. A low wing has 6 windows and dormers. RC Chapel is inside the mansion. Church of All Saints, Churchyard Wall, Spetchley Hall and Stables form a group.

Listing NGR: SO8954553863

Spetchley Park is also on the Parks and Gardens Register (Grade II*)

Heritage Details

Architect: John Tasker

Original Date: 1811

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II*