21 Church Street
Warwickshire CV34 4RA
The beautiful town of Warwick has many interesting medieval buildings well worth visiting. One of the best is the Beauchamp (pronounced 'Beecham') Chapel in the Collegiate Church of St Mary.
St Mary’s is situated in Church Street in the heart of the town and less than a 5 minute walk from Warwick Castle.
In the 14th century, the Earl of Warwick, Thomas Beauchamp (d. 1369) and his son, extensively rebuilt the church in the Gothic style. Subsequently in the 15th century Thomas’s grandson, Richard Beauchamp, built an even more elaborate Gothic chantry chapel dedicated to ‘Our Lady’. This is the famous Beauchamp Chapel, one of the country’s best examples of fan vaulting and high decoration.
The main entrance to the Beauchamp Chapel is through stairs in the South transept of the church. An alternate entry is from the Chancel through a small arch on the right. This leads into an exquisite little vestry called the Dean’s Chapel. On one side it looks into the church and on the other a few steps lead down into the Beauchamp Chapel.
Richard left funds in his will for his chapel to be built specifically to house his tomb and there it is, centrally placed. His gilded effigy lies on a Purbeck marble table tomb. He is in full armour with his feet resting on a bear. Over the effigy is a curved lattice framework called a ‘hearse’. In medieval times this was draped with cloth which was only removed when masses were being said for Richard’s soul.
The Dudley Tombs
Also in this ornate chapel are the large monuments of Robert Dudley, First Earl of Leicester and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, and his elder brother, Ambrose Dudley. Lying alongside Robert is his second wife Lettice Knollys. Beside them is the tomb and effigy of their 3 year old son, Robert who pre-deceased his father.
The church is open to visitors every day(except Good Friday and Christmas Day) from 10:00 to 18:00 hours during summer. It closes at 16:30 during winter. Last admissions are 45 minutes before closing.
Accommodation- Search & Book through Agoda here:
There are several steps down into the chapel but a good view of the interior can be gained from the archway.
Google Maps - Collegiate Church of St Mary