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HER Number:MDV12534
Name:Lighthouse, formerly St. Nicholas Chapel, Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe


The Chapel of St. Nicholas probably dates back to the 14th century and has been used as a lighthouse since at least 1522. Rubble stone building under a slate roof with a lantern at the west end.


Grid Reference:SS 525 478
Map Sheet:SS54NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishIlfracombe
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishILFRACOMBE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS54NW/5/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LIGHTHOUSE (Early Medieval to XXI - 1066 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Hussell, A. T., The Ancient Chapel of St. Nicholas (Pamphlet). SDV339333.

Oliver, 1842, Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon, 3 (Monograph). SDV336342.

Other details: Addenda 20.

Slade-King, 1879, The Older Times of Ilfracombe, 166 (Article in Serial). SDV339332.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Lighthouse formerly St. Nicholas's Chapel' marked on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map, on 'Lantern Hill'.

Department of Environment, 1951, Ilfracombe (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV342175.

St Nicholas' Chapel and Lighthouse. Chapel (now disused) incorporating a lighthouse lantern, situated on a high rock, known as Lantern Hill, between the sea and harbour. Possibly 14th century and known to be in existence by early 15th century. By the time of Henry VIII used as a lighthouse but present lantern 18th or early 19th century. Rubble, part rendered and slated roofs, that over western chancel lower and crowned by lantern. Bulging west end an early 20th century reinforcement covering the original wall behind with 2 lancet windows. Rectangular plan approx. 31 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 3 inches internally; reverse orientated with gabled rubble porch at east end, lit by windows and having plank door, and lean-to porch on south elevation with sash window to right. North elevation has a sash and a casement window and roof dormer. To right, the projecting base of a presumed turret including the window sill. Octagonal lantern with ogee roof surmounted by a copper fish-shaped weather vane with cut-out letter "B" and date "1819". Interior not inspected but believed to retain 18th century internal fittings. Date of closure for worship not known but seems to have been used for various purposes over last 200 years; during the 19th century it was used as a dwelling house, reading room and laundry. This chapel is a prominent and important feature of the harbour. (National Monuments Record: Hussell AT: Measured drawing: Sept.: 1943-). Other details: LBS No 390232.

Pill, D. H., 1966, The Administration of the Diocese of Exeter under Bishop Veysey, 267 (Article in Serial). SDV356.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978 - 1989, SS54NW6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV339324.

1. Lighthouse formerly Chapel of St. Nicholas. Probably early 14th century.
2. Described by Oliver as the only remaining oratory, 'Sancti Nicholi supra Portum Maris' used as a lighthouse as far back as 1522. The interior has been turned into a dwelling house. It must have been a place of pilgramage for Bishop Lacy (1420-1455) granted an indulgence of 40 days to all the penitents who should visit it. The south entrance, much of the original walls, the roof trusses and parts of the west window are early 14th century. The chapel was probably erected between 1310 and 1320.
3. Small stone building on Lantern Hill. Formerly the Chapel of St. Nicholas but has been used as a lighthouse since as least 1522. The building is of rubble masonry, 2 feet 6 inches thick and measures 36 feet 6 inches by 18 feet externally, exclusive of the porch at the eastern end. The original entrance in the south wall dates the building to not later that the 14th century. Traces of the original lantern can be seen on a projection at the western end of the south wall.
4. Site visit 18/09/1953. Rectangular buliding, 11.3 metres by 5.2 metres. The west face is slightly bowed and there are porches on the east and south sides. The west window has been filled in and the remaining windows are modern, the result of conversion to a dwellling house although no longer occupied as such. A light beacon, still in use, surmounts the west end. A modern tablet within the building bears the name, 'Chapel of St. Nicholas'. Other details: Photograph and plan.

Impett, R. M., 1981, Chapel at Ilfracombe (Ground Photograph). SDV339330.

Ordnance Survey, 2009, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV341569.

Building marked as 'Light (fixed red)' on modern Ordnance Survey map.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336342Monograph: Oliver. 1842. Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon. Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon. Unknown. 3.
SDV339324Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978 - 1989. SS54NW6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV339330Ground Photograph: Impett, R. M.. 1981. Chapel at Ilfracombe. Impett Slide Collection. Slide.
SDV339332Article in Serial: Slade-King. 1879. The Older Times of Ilfracombe. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 11. Unknown. 166.
SDV339333Pamphlet: Hussell, A. T.. The Ancient Chapel of St. Nicholas. Unknown.
SDV341569Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2009. MasterMap. MasterMap. Digital.
SDV342175List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1951. Ilfracombe. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV356Article in Serial: Pill, D. H.. 1966. The Administration of the Diocese of Exeter under Bishop Veysey. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 98. Unknown. 267.

Associated Monuments

MDV2204Related to: Chapel of St. Nicholas, Ilfracombe (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 15 2009 10:10AM