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HER Number:MDV18050
Name:Chapel of la Wallen 260 meters south-west of Chapple Farm

Summary

Disused chapel, later cow byre. 13th or 14th century. The chapel was disused in 1332. Probably in the 16th or 17th century the west end was demolished the building shortened and it was converted to a byre. However it has been completely unused for well over a century since it now contains mature oak trees. Built of large blocks of roughly-dressed granite tending to ashlar with massive quoins, west end rebuilt with granite stone rubble; no roof. The Rev. J Rawson argues convincingly that this small building is the remains of the chapel of La Wallen, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was desecrated in 1332 when the clerk Robert de Middlecotte committed a murder there.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 669 889
Map Sheet:SX68NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishGidleigh
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishGIDLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NE/123
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 94698

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHAPEL (XI to XIII - 1100 AD to 1299 AD (Between))
  • INSCRIBED STONE (XVI to XVII - 1600 AD to 1699 AD? (Between))

Full description

Hingeston-Randolph, F. C., 1897, The Register of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter 1327-1369, 495 (Monograph). SDV242278.

The walls are up to 8.0 feet (2.44 meters) in height and nearly 3.0 feet (0.91 meters) in thickness, composed of massive granite boulders the quoins alone being dressed. A roughly filled gap in the west wall of higher wall and field suggests that there was a small gate here leading to the west doorway. Bishop Grandisson describes the desecration of the chapel in 1328.


Watkin, H. R., 1919, Unknown title, 200 (Article in Serial). SDV242289.


Rawson, J., 1920, Story of an ancient chapel (Monograph). SDV242286.


Rawson, J., 1920 - 1921, The Chapel of La Wallen, Gidleigh, 129, 130-138 (Article in Serial). SDV242288.

The ruins of the Chapel of la Wallen, Gidleigh, lie between the village of Gidleigh and Moortown on Moortown Farm. The chapel was probably in existence at least as early as 1328. A ground plan of the building is given, but it is difficult to assess original dimensions because the ruins have been tampered with more than once, in particular for the erection of a field wall. The building was probably about 8.5 meters long by 4.25 meters wide, with a door at the west end and windows on the north and south sides and at east end. The ruins stand by Chapple Brook. There was another Chapel of la Wallen, which stood on Walland Hill, near Chagford, but no remains of it exist. Other details: Additional plan.


Hughes, G. W. G., 1947, Gidleigh, 101 (Article in Serial). SDV273922.

The Chapel of Blessed Mary the Virgin.
The Reverend J. Rawson thus describes a ruin in the parish. In the 'inventory of all church goods' made in 1553 "one bell in the chapel" is mentioned. The old church path from Gidleigh to Moortown follows Chapple Brook to farms called East and West Chapple. There is a ruin in Lower Walland field; it has massive granite walls and a squared window in the north wall. The Tithe Map shows it in Lower Wallands field, numbers 138, 168, 117; Ordnance Survey map fields numbers 179, 180, 181.
Now part of Moortown Farm. The chapel was in existence in 1328 according to the register of Bishop Grandisson at page 95. It appears to have been abandoned after a murder by the clerk Robert de Middlecote. The register records a chapel at Wallen which was licensed on 14th may 1332. This chapel was at Throwleigh and it probably replaced that at Gidleigh.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1974, SX68NE30 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV345658.

The roofless structure is as described and is generally well preserved, but with no dateable features. The orientation suggests a chapel. Other details: Plan also.


Timms, S., 1984, Comment regarding La Wallen Chapel (Personal Comment). SDV242287.

Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries article reprinted as Rawson (1920). Historical background said to be covered by article (reference unknown) in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries Volume 10.


Department of Environment, 1987, Gidleigh, 129 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV275393.

Disused 13th or 14th century chapel, later used as a cow byre. The chapel was disused in 1332. Probably in the 16th or 17th century the west end was demolished, the building shortened and it was converted to a byre. However it has been completely unused for well over a century since it now contains mature oak trees. Built of large blocks or roughly-dressed granite tending to ashlar with massive quoins, west end rebuilt with granite stone rubble; no roof. Plan and description: small gable-ended building on an east-west axis. It contains a small rectangular window in the east end, another towards the east end of the north wall and a third is assumed opposite in the south wall but a doorway has since been knocked through here. The original entrance is thought to have been in the west end but this has been demolished and a new west wall built.
The Rev. J Rawson argues convincingly that this small building is the remains of the chapel of La Wallen, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was desecrated in 1332 when the clerk Robert de Middlecotte committed a murder there. The alignment, construction and disposition of the windows certainly look like a small chapel and it is probably no accident that the nearby farmhouse is called Chapple. Other details: 16/09/1987.


Dartmoor National Park Authority, 1999, Wallen Chapel - proposed rebuilding works (Plan - measured). SDV359364.

Plans showing the areas of masonry to be taken down and rebuilt.


Grumley-Grennan, T. + Hardy, M., 2000, Gidleigh. A Dartmoor Village Past and Present, 146-7 (Monograph). SDV359347.

Just up the hill from Chapple, on the way to Moortown, is a ruin of a chapel, from which, until very recently, three oak trees grew. It stands beside a brook known as Lower Wallands. Documents from the Devon Record Office record the trial of a clerk called Robert de Middelcote who on 28/03/1328 forced the pregnant daughter of the miller at Gidleigh Mill in the chapel, violently raping her and killing her unborn baby. He is also recorded to have stolen from Robert Rossel at Fonhalle (probably Venn manor house in Bishopsteignton) on 27/04/1328 and to have fled the area. He was finally caught on Haldon Hill and accused of murder and highway robbery although his case was eventually dismissed.
The Reverend Rawson believed that the Wallen chapel had been desecrated and it was never used again. For centuries local people were afraid of going near the place and oak trees were planted in its ruins to ensure that, in time. Nature would cause the building to collapse (as it would have been sacrilege to wilfully destroy a holy place). Ironically, in recent years, considerable amounts of money have been spent cutting down the trees to prevent further damage to the building.
On 14/05/1332, Alice de Moeles obtained a licence to have mass celebrated in her new chapel "atte Wallen" founded by Richard de Chagford, which was built in Throwleigh parish. There is some dispute as to exactly where that chapel was sited as no stone of it remains on Walland Hill, above the Teign on the boundaries of Throwleigh and Chagford parishes.


Greeves, T. A. P., 2002, Wallen Chapel, near Chapple Farm, Gidleigh, 10/7/2002, Sketch of inscription (Worksheet). SDV242292.

When visited in 2002, it was noted that on the outside face of the north wall of the chapel, to the east of the window opening, is an inscription cut into a large block of granite.
The rectilinear granite block measuring 1.05 metres by 0.55 metres bears the inscription I B (or 8) I V X X with T S (or G) below. This may be interpreted as the date 18. IV. XX or as a pair of initials IB and IV followed by two crosses. The letters are well cut and 9 – 12 centimetres high and possibly date to the 17th century.
Greeves points out that families by the name of Brock and Vogwell historically occupied Chapple and Moortown farms, although this may be pure coincidence.
Conservation work was undertaken by Dartmoor National Park Authority in 1999, comprising the rebuilding of some of the walls and the removal of five oak trees from the interior of the chapel. Wallen chapel is remarkable for its wedge-cut stone, which may be the earliest known on Dartmoor if the structure is genuinely of 13th or 14th century date.


Gerrard, S., 2004, List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV345444.

This chapel was considered for designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument during the Monument Protection Programme. The programme ended before the entire list of sites was successfully scheduled so this is included on a local list of Nationally Important Sites.


Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.


Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

3/169 Disused Chapel at SX 669 889 - GV II
Disused chapel, later cow byre. C13 or C14. The chapel was disused in 1332. Probably in the C16 or C17 the west end was demolished the building shortened and it was converted to a byre. However it has been completely unused for well over a century since it now contains mature oak trees. Built of large blocks of roughly-dressed granite tending to ashlar with massive quoins, west end rebuilt with granite stone rubble; no roof.
Plan and description: small gable-ended building on an east-west axis. It contains a small rectangular window in the east end, another towards the east end of the north wall and a third is assumed opposite in the south wall but a doorway has since been knocked through here. The original entrance is thought to have been in the west end but this has been demolished and a new west wall built. The Rev. J Rawson argues convincingly that this small building is the remains of the chapel of La Wallen, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was desecrated in 1332 when the clerk Robert de Middlecotte committed a murder there. The alignment, construction and disposition of the windows certainly look like a small chapel and it is probably no accident that the nearby farmhouse is called Chapple.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV242278Monograph: Hingeston-Randolph, F. C.. 1897. The Register of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter 1327-1369. The Register of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter 1327-1369. Unknown. 495.
SDV242286Monograph: Rawson, J.. 1920. Story of an ancient chapel. Story of an ancient chapel. Unknown.
SDV242287Personal Comment: Timms, S.. 1984. Comment regarding La Wallen Chapel. Unknown.
SDV242288Article in Serial: Rawson, J.. 1920 - 1921. The Chapel of La Wallen, Gidleigh. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 11, part 1. Unknown. 129, 130-138.
SDV242289Article in Serial: Watkin, H. R.. 1919. Unknown title. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 10. Unknown. 200.
SDV242292Worksheet: Greeves, T. A. P.. 2002. Wallen Chapel, near Chapple Farm, Gidleigh. Worksheet. Digital. 10/7/2002, Sketch of inscription.
SDV273922Article in Serial: Hughes, G. W. G.. 1947. Gidleigh. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 79. Unknown. 101.
SDV275393List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Gidleigh. Historic Houses Register. 129.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82161 ]
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV345658Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1974. SX68NE30. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV359347Monograph: Grumley-Grennan, T. + Hardy, M.. 2000. Gidleigh. A Dartmoor Village Past and Present. Gidleigh. A Dartmoor Village Past and Present. Hardback Volume. 146-7.
SDV359353National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV359364Plan - measured: Dartmoor National Park Authority. 1999. Wallen Chapel - proposed rebuilding works. 1:50. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV77125Related to: Chapple farmstead, Gidleigh (Monument)
MDV77444Related to: Moortown farmstead, Gidleigh (Monument)
MDV6175Related to: Site of La Wallen chapel at Wallandhill, Throwleigh (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2018 3:29PM