Tower Of St Catherine's Oratory

11 Oct 1999
Tower Of St Catherine's Oratory, St Catherine's Hill, Chale, Isle Of Wight
Photograph (Digital)
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This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.


SZ47NE ST CATHERINE'S HILL 1353-0/5/81 Tower of St Catherine's Oratory


Former lighthouse, now Ancient Monument. Early C14. Built as a penance by the local landowner Walter de Godeton for disposing of the cargo of Church wine belonging to the monastery of Lives in Picardy, when the Saint Marie was wrecked on Atherfield Ledge in the Parish of Shorwell in 1314. The tower was built as a lighthouse to prevent further wrecks and there was originally an oratory chapel with a monk whose job was to trim the light and say masses for those lost at sea. After the Reformation the church fell into ruins and had disappeared by the C18, but buttresses were added to the tower then to keep it standing as a seamark. Restored by P G Stone in 1891 and by the then Ministry of Works in 1950. Built of ashlar. 4 storeys, octagonal without and square within with 4 buttresses and a pyramidal stone roof, domed on the inside. Pointed doorways on ground and first floors which originally communicated with the Priest's dwelling and the Chapel respectively, and loop lights on ground, first and second floors. The top storey has 8 windows splayed outwards to emit light from the brazier which formed the beacon. Stairs and floors now missing. A rare survival of a medieval lighthouse.

Locally nicknamed "the Pepper Pot " because of its shape and its conjunction with the remains of the C18 lighthouse to the south east in the adjoining Parish of Niton which is known as "the Salt Cellar". (see item ) Scheduled Ancient Monument.

(V.C.H.: 235).

Listing NGR: SZ4936477278


This is part of the Series: IOE01/1751 IOE Records taken by Robert Rudd; within the Collection: IOE01 Images Of England


© Rev Robert Rudd. Source: Historic England Archive

This photograph was taken for the Images of England project

People & Organisations

Photographer: Rudd, Robert

Rights Holder: Rudd, Robert


Stone, Ashlar, Medieval Lighthouse, Maritime, Navigation Aid, Communications, Signalling Structure