Building » Wardour – All Saints

Wardour – All Saints

Wardour Park Street, Tisbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP3

  • Image copyright Alex Ramsay

  • Image copyright Alex Ramsay

  • Image copyright Alex Ramsay

An important, substantial and little-altered eighteenth-century private chapel. It was built discreetly within one of the wings of a large mansion designed by James Paine for the eighth Lord Arundell, whose family had provided a local focus of Catholicism since the 1540s. Much of the interior ornament is by the Roman Giacomo Quarenghi. Paine’s chapel was subsequently enlarged by John Soane. The chapel was served by the Jesuits from its opening until 1936 and again from 1946 to 2003. 

From 1540 until 1944 the Arundell family of Wardour provided a local Catholic focus, always with at least one Jesuit priest in their household. Displaced from Wardour Castle after the Civil War, the family lived mainly at Breamore in Hampshire until 1776, when the eighth Lord Arundell moved into a new mansion house at New Wardour. This was built from 1770 to designs by James Paine, who had previously worked for the Catholic Lord Petre at Thorndon Hall in Essex where, as here, he provided a handsome new Catholic chapel in one of the wings. It was opened by Bishop Walmsley, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, on All Saints’ Day (1 November), 1776. The chapel was originally apsed at both ends. Much of the interior decoration and some of the furnishings were designed in Rome by Giacomo Quarenghi, under the supervision of the English Jesuit Fr John Thorpe. Already by the late 1770s the chapel was becoming too small for the local congregation (Bishop Walmsley recorded 540 Catholics at Wardour in 1781) and in 1789 the eighth Lord Arundell employed (Sir) John Soane to enlarge the space by the addition of a sanctuary with flanking tribunes.

A large detached burial ground on the road from Wardour to Tisbury was opened in 1836 (it was enlarged in 1909). In 1837 the chapel was registered for the solemnisation of marriage and in 1850 Wardour became a mission in the new diocese of Clifton. In 1860 the railway reached the nearby town of Tisbury (qv), whose population began to increase as a result and a new church opened there in 1898 on a site given by the twelfth Lord Arundell. At the same time he gave the chapel at New Wardour into the ownership of a trust subject to episcopal control, to ensure that it remained the main church; both churches were served by the Jesuits. During the 1920s, the Dowager Lady Arundell attempted to make Wardour a private chapel with Tisbury as the sole parish church, but her efforts were unsuccessful. In 1934 the Jesuits withdrew from both Wardour and Tisbury, to be replaced by secular clergy. Tisbury became the parish church, although the Wardour chapel remained in use for worship.

After the death of the last Lord Arundell in 1944 the mansion at New Wardour was sold, and acquired by the Jesuits for an intended use as a Noviciate Centre. In the event, that use never materialised and from 1959 the building was occupied by Cranborne Chase School. The Wardour Chapel Trustees became responsible for the maintenance of the chapel, which was sealed off from the school, with the loss of two sacristies on the south side (compensated for by the conversion of rooms on the north side for this use). In 1965-6 the chapel interior was restored with grant aid from the Historic Churches Preservation Trust and the Pilgrim Trust (and a donation of $10,000 from the Archbishop of Baltimore). From 1966 the Jesuits again became responsible for the whole parish. The school closed in 1990 and the mansion house converted to private apartments. A further major round of repairs took place in 1994, with English Heritage grant aid. The Jesuits finally withdrew from the parish in 2003.


The building is fully described in the list entry, below, and repetition is unnecessary.  The following furnishings might also be mentioned (information mainly from the Wardour Chapel website):

In the sanctuary, paintings of The Glorification of the Eucharist by Gerard Seghers, a copy of Rubens’ destroyed picture for the High Altar of the Shod Carmelites, Antwerp; Coronation of the Virgin by Cornelius Schultze;  Fathers of the Church discussing The Dogma of The Immaculate Conception by Gaspar de Crayer, a copy of the picture by Guido Reni in The Hermitage, The Samaritan Woman at the Well by Louis de Boulanger, formerly in Notre Dame, Paris and bought at the time of the revolution; The Assumption by Gaspar de Crayer, The Return from the Flight into Egypt by Giuseppe Chiari.

In the nave, the Stations of the Cross are nineteenth century, of Limoges enamel, by Ernest Blancher. The organ in the western apse dates from 1791 and is by Samuel Green; it has a mahogany case with inlaid satin wood and gilt mouldings. It was restored in 1960 under the direction of Ralph Downes.

List descriptions



Roman Catholic parish church. 1770-76 by James Paine and Giacomo Quarenghi, sanctuary enlarged by John Soane 1789. Limestone ashlar, Welsh slate hipped roof. Contained within the west pavilion of Wardour Castle (q.v.), the Soane sanctuary projects beyond it to the west. Entrance through 6-panelled door behind stone wall continuing to west from front of west pavilion (see Wardour Castle), 12-pane sash over. Sanctuary to right has apsidal north transept with three round-arched leaded windows to ground and first floor, lunette over. West end has 6-panelled door to left and right with 12-pane fixed window, large blind arch and two blind windows to recessed centre, blocking course with ball finials to roof, lunette above altar behind. South side has transept with same detail as north transept, 12-pane sash either side. Nave concealed behind south front of pavilion; central Venetian window with flanking sashes to piano nobile, rusticated basement below has five 6-pane sashes and double glazed doors, centre bay breaks forward, blocking course with ball finials conceals roof of Chapel.

Interior: one of the finest C18 chapel interiors outside London; nave walls lined with Composite pilasters to frieze and modillioned cornice, fine shallow groin vault with plaster decoration. Ritual west end to the east has double 6-panelled doors in shallow apse below gallery on Ionic columns. Sanctuary to the west by Soane has fine saucer domed ceiling with gilded plaster decoration, shallow apsed ‘east’ end flanked by coupled Composite columns, apsed transepts with galleries on marble columns and wrought-iron balustrade, semi-circular domed plaster ceilings.

Fittings: Marble altar designed by Quarenghi and made in Rome by Vinelli 1776, painting behind altar by Giuseppe Cades and lunette stained glass above by F. Eginton in pictorial style, Sanctuary lamps by Luigi Valadier, 1775, Rome, wrought-iron Communion rail. Fine marble relief of Virgin and Child to left of entrance by P.E. Monnot, 1703, originally from chapel of Jesuit-General, gilded pedestal font with statue of St John the Baptist on cover, also below east gallery. Marble bust on plinth in north transept of Tenth Lord Arundell died 1834. Chapel also contains fine set of paintings, plate and an important collection of vestments dating from the C15 onwards.

(N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Wiltshire, 1975; Country Life, 10 October 1968; P. Caraman, Wardour, A Short History, 1984)

Listing NGR: ST9274026966

Wardour Castle


Country house, now Cranborne Chase School. 1770-76 by James Paine for Eighth Lord Arundell. Limestone ashlar, hipped Welsh slate roofs, ashlar stacks. Square main block with flanking pavilions. North front has rusticated basement below piano nobile with mezzanine and attic floor over, 9 bays, centre three break forward. Central double half-glazed doors with four 6-pane sashes either side to chamfered rusticated basement, stepped bands to piano nobile with central Palladian window of Ionic order with balustraded apron, four 12-pane sashes either side with pediments or dentilled cornices. Mezzanine floor has small 6-pane sashes, attic has 6-pane sashes in moulded architraves, dentilled and modillioned cornice and pediment. Concave front link to pavilions; 5 round-arched openings to double doors and sashes with niches to sides of basement, first floor has large sashes, cornice to blocking course with ball finials. Front of pavilions have 6-pane sashes to basements, Venetian window and flanking sashes to piano nobile, pediment and blocking course concealing attic with 3-pane and 6-pane sashes and Chapel (q.v.) east end with three leaded lunettes. East pavilion has canted east end with sashes and semi- circular panels over, attached C20 ranges of school facilities. For west pavilion see Chapel. South front has rusticated basement with eight 6-pane sashes and central double doors, piano nobile with giant Composite Order flanking round-arched central window with flanking niches, three large pedimented sashes either side, fluted frieze with paterae to upper floor with 6-pane sashes, cornice and pediment as north front. Left return has 5-bay basement, five large sashes to piano nobile, and 6-pane sashes to mezzanine and attic. Right return has basement below main floor with central Palladian window and one sash to right and two to left, 6-pane or 9-pane sashes to mezzanine and to attic.

Interior: Main feature is central rotunda of main block with fine flying stairs in two curves, wrought iron balustrade to stairs and to gallery with Composite columns to coffered dome and glazed lantern, semi-circular niches in gallery walls also coffered (illustrated in Pevsner). Piano nobile occupied by state rooms and apartment in south-west corner, including the ‘Boudoir’, remodelled by Soane c1790; all retaining original pairs of double 8-panelled doors, some pedimented, window shutters, plaster ceiling friezes and marble fireplaces. Particularly good plaster ceilings include a saucer dome in Reading Room and gilded ceiling in Boudoir. Former kitchen in east pavilion has blocked open fireplace, now school gym. One of the finest Palladian houses in Wiltshire. (N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Wiltshire, 1975; Country Life, 22 and 29 November 1930)

Listing NGR: ST9277826927

Heritage Details

Architect: James Paine and Giacomo Quarenghi; Sir John Soane

Original Date: 1776

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade I