St. Aldhelm's Chapel, St. Aldhelm's Head

St. Aldhelm's Chapel, St. Aldhelm's Head

St. Aldhelm's Chapel, St. Aldhelm's Head

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St Aldhelm's Chapel is a Norman chapel on St Aldhelm's Head in the parish of Worth Matravers, Swanage, Dorset. The square stone chapel stands within a low circular earthwork, which may be the remains of a pre-Conquest Christian enclosure. The building has several architectural features which are unusual for a chapel; the square shape, the orientation of the corners of the building towards the cardinal points, and the division and restriction of the interior space by a large central column. The lack of evidence for an altar or a piscina suggests that the building may not have been built as a chapel. It may have originally been built as a watchtower for Corfe Castle, covering the sea approaches to the south.

Its identification as a purpose-built chapel rests on records of payments to a chaplain in the reign of King Henry III (1261–1272). The chapel appears to have gone out of use some time before 1625, and was in a ruinous condition by the end of the 18th century. Repairs were carried out by local landowners during the 19th century, and the chapel was reopened for church services in 1874.

The interior of the chapel is approximately 25 feet (7.7. metres) square. In the centre is a square pier supporting four square rib vaults, with...
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