Couple open peaceful chapel in former venison larder

The chapel, located on the Walsingham Way at North Elmham

The chapel, located on the Walsingham Way at North Elmham - Credit: Jo Howard

A Norfolk couple have opened a small chapel on the grounds of their estate, having repurposed a former hunting lodge. 

Tom Fitzalan Howard and wife Jo Howard had both been hoping for some years to find a new use for a venison larder on their land at Elmham House in North Elmham.

The history of the building goes back to 1840 when the estate was owned by George John Milles, 4th Baron Sondes.

The venison larder was built to serve an extensive enclosed deer park of some 400 acres and there are records showing the existence of a much larger deer park in this area since the reign of Richard II.

The charming building has retained as many as possible of the characteristics of its former use: internal iron work and hooks, folding shutters on the windows, the floor pamments and the limewash colours of the walls. 


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However, the ravages of time and weather on the external woodwork and wire gauze, and the need to protect it from the elements has meant glass has replaced the wire gauze and a new door and window frames have been fitted.

The interior of St Mary's Chapel at North Elmham

The interior of St Mary's Chapel at North Elmham - Credit: Jo Howard

The simple benches and table which can serve as an altar were made by David Adcock a most skilled and local craftsman out of oak largely from the nearby Sennowe Estate.

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The work started in May 2020 and was completed later that year.

The chapel is only a few yards from the newly opened pilgrimage route the Walsingham Way which follows a public footpath through the estate. The chapel is signed from the footpath and is open to the public. 

“It ties in so beautifully, because it [the opening of the route] was after we’d decided to do the chapel,” said Mrs Howard. 

The chapel is located on the Walsingham Way pilgrimage route and is open to members of the public

The chapel is located on the Walsingham Way pilgrimage route and is open to members of the public - Credit: Jo Howard

In comments to local Christian news website Network Norfolk, Mr Fitzalan Howard said the couple's aim was to “share with everyone a special place which is always open. 

“It provides a place for prayer, reflection, rest and a moment of peace in this troublous world.”

The gardens at Elmham House are also open as part of the Quiet Garden Movement. 

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