Chapel Jane

Ancient Chapel, in St Ives is a seaside town, civil parish and port in Cornwall. The town lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing. The monument includes a medieval chapel, situated in a 2m deep artificially-cut hollow on the edge of coastal cliffs, overlooking Treen Cove. The chapel survives as a single-celled rectangular structure measuring approximately 7.6m long by 3.5m wide. It is defined by walls of up to 0.6m high. Following recent consolidation work, several features which were previously obscured are now visible including a stone bench against the north wall; the extension at the west end; a ledge in the east wall possibly marking the original location of the altar; and some surviving internal wall plaster. The altar stone, which once lay outside the north wall, has also been moved into the east end of the building.

Although there are no ecclesiastic records, the earliest reference to the chapel is in 1565 in documents recording a wreck in 1531 at ‘Senar [Zennor] Clyffe by Innyall Chappell’. Hals in about 1700 referred to it as an old free (unlicensed) chapel, and it was much visited by antiquarians with Crozier mentioning that up until the beginning of the 19th century there had been an annual pilgrimage and feast at the chapel for the parishioners of Zennor. By 1865 it was becoming steadily more overgrown. Excavations in 1964 and 1966, prompted by the threat of coastal erosion, revealed that the chapel had two phases of construction. The first, dating to about 1150, was a building of 4.9m by 2.4m with a door in the south wall and associated with the large granite altar slab. In the second phase the chapel was extended to the west; the original west wall was removed; and the south door was blocked and a new one made to the west. The extension was thought to have held a tower for a light. Evidence suggested the chapel continued in use until the early 16th century.

A nearby spring was regarded both by documentary and traditional sources as a holy well.


Cornwall Multi-Entry Multi-Directional Visitors Guide © Simon Newbound

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