St Mary Undercroft

St Mary Undercroft, which was rebuilt in the nineteenth century, is still a working chapel within the Houses of Parliament. It was decorated in the nineteenth century by Edward Barry.

During its long history it has been a chapel, a civic court, a storage space and a dining room and then a chapel again in the Victorian New Palace of Westminster. There is a story, although it’s sadly not likely to be true, that Oliver Cromwell used it as a stable for his horses. Today it is not a parish church, but is used by Parliament for regular church services and concerts.

The Middle Ages

St Stephen’s College was responsible for St Mary Undercroft, and used it for their daily round of church services along with St Stephen’s upstairs.

From College to Fire

St Mary Undercroft served a variety of purposes including stables, kitchen, art gallery and even a dining room.

St Mary Undercroft Today

St Mary Undercroft taken by Tim Banting, Digital Imaging Technician, Parliamentary Archives

St Mary Undercroft survived the 1834 fire and Charles Barry's subsequent redesign of the Houses of Parliament, relatively intact.

The Forgottoen Burial of William Lyndwood

The body of William Lyndwood, well preserved and still with his bishop’s mitre and crozier, lay within the rubble core of the wall, unmarked by any surviving plaque on the outside.

Further Reading

Discover more about St Mary Undercroft

Related information

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Find out more about the history of the chapel

Related information

The Chapel of St Mary Undercroft can be viewed on a virtual tour

View photographs of the stunning interior of the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft on flickr

Also within Living Heritage