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HER Number:MDV2204
Name:Chapel of St. Nicholas, Ilfracombe

Summary

The Chapel of St. Nicholas on Lantern hill probably dates back to the 14th century. It is known to have been in existence in the 14th century and has been used as a lighthouse since at least 1522. Rectangular rubble stone building under a slate roof with a lantern at the west end.

Location

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

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS54NW/5
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 390232
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS54NW6

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHAPEL (XIV to XV - 1301 AD to 1500 AD (Between))

Full description

Tucker, C., 1863, Untitled Source, 69-71 (Article in Serial). SDV339325.

Appears to have been a chapel at Ilfracombe as early as the time of Edward III 1519-1551: an indulgence was granted by Bishop Veysey of Exeter for the maintainance of a beacon light at the chapel.


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 tower and crowned by lantern. Bulging west end an early 20th century reinforcement covering the original wall behind with 2 lancet windows. Rectangular plan approx. 31'6" x 13'3" 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.


Russell, P., 1955, Fire Beacons in Devon, 292 (Article in Serial). SDV336138.

Other details: Appendix A.


Everett, A. W., 1956, The Chapel of Saint Nicholas, Ilfracombe, 47-51 (Article in Serial). SDV339320.

Chapel of St. Nicholas atop Lantern Hill. 15 metres above sea level. Mainly fifteenth century, of rubble masonry, with porch at east end. A two- storey building with a lighted window projecting from the north wall. Existing lantern is set-up in the roof. Other details: Plate 9, Figure 1.


Department of Environment, 1973, Ilfracombe, 1 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV325672.

Probably dated from the 15th century when it was a consecrated chapel. Its secular use as a lighthouse dates from the Reformation. During the last century it was used as a dwelling house, reading room, laundry etc. The lantern at the west end of the roof appears to be 18th century in structure as also are the internal fittings. A 16th or 17th century external door was removed from here during the late war. The building crowns the small "Lantern Hill" near the entrance to the harbour and is an indispensable feature of the Ilfracombe scene.


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: Photos and plans.


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


Weddell, P. J. + Turton, S. D., 1992, Preliminary Archaeological Assessment of Ilfracombe Sewage Treatment Works, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV321602.


North Devon District Council, 1997, Ilfracombe Harbour Conservation Area Character Appraisal (1st Draft - June 1997) in Ilfracombe Harbour Conservation Area Partnership Bid Preliminary Application (Un-published). SDV345949.

From the 16th century the chapel was sed to house a light for local shipping. Other details: 4.2.


North Devon District Council, 1998, Restoring the Heritage of Ilfracombe Harbour. Business Plan, 10 (Un-published). SDV347082.


Context One Archaeological Services, 2008, Ilfracombe Bus Station, Ropery Road, Ilfracombe, Devon. An Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment, 6, 24 (Report - Assessment). SDV342172.


Watts, S., 2009, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV342176.

St. Nicholas is a patron saint of sailors and travellers.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV321602Report - Assessment: Weddell, P. J. + Turton, S. D.. 1992. Preliminary Archaeological Assessment of Ilfracombe Sewage Treatment Works. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 92.50. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV325672List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1973. Ilfracombe. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 1.
SDV336138Article in Serial: Russell, P.. 1955. Fire Beacons in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. A5 Hardback. 292.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV339320Article in Serial: Everett, A. W.. 1956. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas, Ilfracombe. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 88. Hardback Volume. 47-51.
SDV339324Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978 - 1989. SS54NW6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV339325Article in Serial: Tucker, C.. 1863. Archaeological Journal. 20. Unknown. 69-71.
SDV339330Ground Photograph: Impett, R. M.. 1981. Chapel at Ilfracombe. Impett Slide Collection. Slide.
SDV342172Report - Assessment: Context One Archaeological Services. 2008. Ilfracombe Bus Station, Ropery Road, Ilfracombe, Devon. An Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment. Context One Archaeological Services Report. COAS/DBA/08/IBD. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6, 24.
SDV342175List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1951. Ilfracombe. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV342176Personal Comment: Watts, S.. 2009. Not Applicable.
SDV345949Un-published: North Devon District Council. 1997. Ilfracombe Harbour Conservation Area Character Appraisal (1st Draft - June 1997) in Ilfracombe Harbour Conservation Area Partnership Bid Preliminary Application. North Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV347082Un-published: North Devon District Council. 1998. Restoring the Heritage of Ilfracombe Harbour. Business Plan. North Devon District Council Report. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 10.

Associated Monuments

MDV12534Related to: Lighthouse, formerly St. Nicholas Chapel, Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4499 - Desk-Based Assessment of Ifracombe Bus Station

Date Last Edited:Apr 21 2011 11:45AM