Bellirica Chapel, 150m south of Manor Farm
Reasons for Designation
A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre-Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status residences. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are identified as being nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.
Bellirica Chapel survives well with appreciable upstanding medieval fabric. It includes some significant architectural details such as the holy water stoup, the west doorway and the springing of the chancel arch. The site will contain archaeological information relating to the construction, use and history of the chapel.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 19 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a medieval chapel, known as Bellirica Chapel, surviving as upstanding and below-ground remains. It is situated near the top of an escarpment overlooking Romney Marsh at Court-at-Street.
The chapel is a single cell building constructed of ragstone with at least two phases of building evident within the walls. It is approximately 14.5m long by 8m wide. The chapel is now roofless but the walls survive up to an average of 2.1m high, although much of the north wall is no longer standing. The west wall contains a Late Perpendicular four-centred doorway, although only the outer sections of the lintel survive, and, in the north side, a holy water stoup. In the east wall are traces of the springing of a chancel arch. The east part of the south wall and much of the east wall are in smaller stone rubble, which is thought to form the remains of an earlier 12th century, two-celled, building. Much of the chapel was rebuilt in the 16th century.
Bellirica Chapel is likely to have been a chapel of ease to a nearby manor house. The remains of walls and foundations of a possible manor house have been recorded just to the south. The chapel is associated with Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, and became a place of pilgrimage from the 16th century onwards.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally assessed.