The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft

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Click on the 'hot spots' below to discover more about this beautiful but little known part of the Houses of Parliament.

The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft

The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft (historically sometimes referred to as ‘the Crypt’) was built in 1297 for use by the Court and Royal Household while the Royal Family worshiped above in St Stephen’s Chapel.

By the early nineteenth century it had long ceased to be used for its original purpose, having variously functioned as the Speaker’s State Dining Room, a wine cellar and, allegedly, stabling for Oliver Cromwell’s horses.

It was one of the few parts of the old Palace of Westminster to survive the fire that destroyed the building in 1834, although its stonework was badly damaged by heat and smoke.

During the building of the new Houses of Parliament the Chapel was restored and decorated in the High Victorian Gothic style.

This watercolour was painted in around 1863 by Edward Middleton Barry, son of the architect of the new Palace of Westminster Sir Charles Barry.

Following his father’s death in 1860, E M Barry took over as architect of the Houses of Parliament. Restoring the Chapel and returning it to its former use was one of his main contributions to the building. His brother later recalled that it was ‘the work in which he took the greatest delight’.