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HER Number:MDV244
Name:Chapel and Holy Well west of Spreacombe


Ruins of 13th century chapel of St. John and St Martin with adjoining priest's house and adjacent holy well to the west of Spreacombe


Grid Reference:SS 482 413
Map Sheet:SS44SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMortehoe
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishMORTEHOE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 33398
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS44SE/7/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 98448
  • Old SAM County Ref: 197
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS44SE2

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHAPEL (XII to XIII - 1200 AD to 1300 AD (Between))

Full description

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

'Chapel (Remains of)' and 'Chapel Well' shown on 19th century map to the south of Chapel Wood and west of Spreacombe

Ordnance Survey, 1905, 8NE (Cartographic). SDV59307.

Radford, C. + Radford, R., 1939, 18th Report on Ancient Monuments, 67 (Article in Serial). SDV11940.

The Well Chapel, Spreacombe Manor was scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1939.

Ministry of Public Building and Works, 1939, Spreacombe Manor, Well Chapel (Schedule Document). SDV344823.

Well Chapel at Spreacombe Manor. The remains consist of walling averaging 2 foot 6 inches (0.76 metres) high and forming a parallelogram. The building was divided into three sections and it is suggested that the eastern part was a chapel and the other two divisions to the west were the priest's dwelling. There are now four openings, three of which possess original stone jambs. The character of the walling is medieval and may date to the first half of the 13th century. To the east of the chapel is a large spring. The site was excavated in 1938.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SS44SE2 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV338154.

Remains of a 13th century chapel and Holy Well with priest's house at the west end of two rooms.
The remains consist of grass covered drystone walling oriented east to west with an overall length of 18 metres. The chapel is 9.9 metres long by 6.4 metres wide and separated from the priest's house by walling with an apparent entrance. There are two possible entrances in north wall and one in south wall of the chapel and the interior is paved. A plaque erected nearby refers to the chapel as a secular chantry chapel endowed by the holder of the nearby (Spreacombe) manor circa 1250. Excavated and restored by A L Baker. The well adjoining east wall of chapel is roughly circular water-filled pit with a 3 metre diameter and water 0.4 metres deep. The sides are grass covered with slight evidence of fallen stone work around the sides. A drain passing along the north wall of the chapel leads into the well. Other details: Photograph.

Department of Environment, 1960, Barnstaple RD, 38 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337219.

Owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The low walls of a chapel and a two roomed dwelling of the priest, circa 1250. A secular chantry. Excavated by Arthur Leigh Bowker and Lady Arthur Cecil who are buried there.

Barker, A. L., 1961, Proceedings at the 99th Annual Meeting, 16-18 (Article in Serial). SDV338153.

In grounds of Spreacombe Manor, close by a spring and just at the bottom of a wood is a never-failing spring of clear sparkling water. This was probably venerated in former times as a Holy Well, consecrated to St. John the Baptist, for hard by is the ruined wall of a little chapel, undoubtedly one of the two licensed in 1385. The chapel fell into ruin after the reformation. Its doors were blocked up and it was probably used firstly as a cattle shed and secondly as a quarry. Undergrowth, trees and rubble cleared to reveal ground plan. Such walls as are left are some 3 feet (0.91 metres) high but they show a building of surprising size, 40 foot (12.19 metres) by 20 foot (6.10 metres) with doors in the north and south sides and another small door in the east end. At one end, forming part of the same building, was a room 20 foot ( 6.1 metres) square with a door to the south and the outline of a fireplace which must have been the priest's dwelling house. During site clearance a few bits of carved stone from mullions and arches were found and half a dozen ridge tiles.

Grinsell, L. V., 1970, The Archaeology of Exmoor, 213 (Monograph). SDV1641.

Holy Well close to the chapel dedicated to St John at Spreacombe Manor.

Department of Environment, 1985, Morthoe, 103 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV338155.

Ruins of Chapel of St John the Baptist and Priest's House, circa 1250. Excavated and walls partially rebuilt to regular height in 1924. Low rubble walls to Chapel and two-roomed dwelling of priest. Was a secular chantry, also burial place of Arthur Leigh Barker and Lady Arthur Cecil of Spreacombe Manor who carried out the excavation. Other details: Listed Building Number 98448.

Dodd, M., 2004, Dean Milles Parochial Survey. Questionnaire (1747-1762) (Un-published). SDV162499.

Respondent to Dean Milles questionaire noted ruin of an old hermitage which he believed to be a chapel belonging to the estate of Spreacombe.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2007, Proposed Works at Spreacombe Manor Well Chapel (Correspondence). SDV338157.

Scheduled monument consent granted, subject to conditions, in respect of proposed works concerning the damaged wall, and general gardening works around the chapel.

National Monuments Record, 2010, 33398 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV344824.

The Chapel of St Martin and St John the Baptist at Spreacombe was licenced for worship in 1385; the latter may relate to the present remains of a chapel near the stream in front of Spreacombe house. Excavation of this chapel by A.L.Baker revealed a ground plan 40 foot (12.20 metres) long by 20 foot (6.10 metres) wide with a north and south door and another small north door at the east end. The surviving walls were nowhere more than 3 feet (0.91 metres) high. Forming part of the same building was a room 20 foot (6.10 metres) square with a door to the south and the outline of a large open fireplace which must have been the dwelling house of a priest.

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

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11940Article in Serial: Radford, C. + Radford, R.. 1939. 18th Report on Ancient Monuments. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 71. A5 Paperback. 67.
SDV162499Un-published: Dodd, M.. 2004. Dean Milles Parochial Survey. Questionnaire (1747-1762). Dean Milles Parochial Survey. Questionnarie (1747-62). Digital.
SDV1641Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. A5 Hardback. 213.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337219List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1960. Barnstaple RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 38.
SDV338153Article in Serial: Barker, A. L.. 1961. Proceedings at the 99th Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 93. A5 Hardback. 16-18.
SDV338154Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SS44SE2. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV338155List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1985. Morthoe. Historic Houses Register. A4 Bound. 103.
SDV338157Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2007. Proposed Works at Spreacombe Manor Well Chapel. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV344823Schedule Document: Ministry of Public Building and Works. 1939. Spreacombe Manor, Well Chapel. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap. [Mapped feature: #84621 ]
SDV344824National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 33398. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV59307Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1905. 8NE. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Aug 19 2020 3:27PM