Castle Learning Center Castle Chapels
Castles of Britain

Castle Chapels

© 1995-2015 Lise Hull
castle chapel Chapels were an important part of life in a castle and the central place for community gatherings. Castle keeps had chapels, but sometimes they were located in the bailey, or outer ward. Other places chapels could be located were in the castle towers and gate houses.

Many castles had more than one chapel, and some were very large cathedral-type structures. Sometimes, the chapels were private and only used by the lord and his family, even when churches were located nearby.

Decoration and furniture in castle chapels were just as ornate as any other chapel that was built separate from the castle. Most had stained glass windows and wall paintings. Often, the castle chapel was the only room in the castle that had carved and vaulted decoration. Altars, piscinas, and aumbries were built-in. Some had crypts and barrel-vaulted naves.

Chaplains were an important appointment to the castle staff. They acted as a local parish priest, or as a chantry chaplain. They provided for confession, absolution, and communion. Chaplains sometimes took on other occupations within the castle, such as overseeing the building of structures, being a clerk, accountant, or a medical officer.