Constructed soon after the relaxation of laws forbidding Roman Catholic worship but twenty years prior to formal emancipation in 1829, the Gothic Revival chapel at Costessey Hall (Norfolk) was sumptuously glazed with over eighty panels of medieval stained glass dispersed from their original ecclesiastical contexts. This study examines the chapel at Costessey (1809) and its import within the context of Roman Catholic Emancipation in England and the aristocratic claims of its patron, Sir William Jerningham (1736-1809). As an integral monument, the Costessey chapel constituted an extraordinary coalescence of architecture and glazing in which medieval stained glass re-employed as medieval artifact both embodied and revitalized the spirits of its creators. Although the chapel was destroyed in the early twentieth century, it is possible to assess its appearance and that of its glazing program through descriptions, drawings, engravings, and photographs. By placing the Costessey chapel within the context of the Jerningham family history and their role within the movement for Catholic Emancipation, as well as by examining the family's connection with the Catholic bishop John Milner (a champion of the use of Gothic architecture for Roman Catholic building) it is possible to understand the chapel at Costessey as representing not only the distinguished lineage and religious legacy of its builder, but also the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic faith in a turbulent time of social and religious change.
- Copyright 1995 The Society of Architectural Historians