Westhumble Chapel, 32m west of Chapel Cottage
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. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some chapels, as is the case at Westhumble, 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.
Westhumble Chapel survives well with a large amount of upstanding stone remains still in existence. It has been shown by partial excavation to include buried archaeological remains relating to the original use and history of the site.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 15/10/14. This 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 the remains of a chapel of late 12th century or 13th century date and associated burial ground. It is situated near the foot of a steep-sided valley, 1.05km west of the River Mole in the village of Westhumble. The chapel is a plain rectangular building that consisted of a nave and chancel measuring approximately 15m by 5m. It is constructed of rounded flints and sandstone walls. The standing remains include the west gable, part of the east wall and south wall. The stone remains indicate that a window was sited in the east wall and another, of probable circular design, at the west end. In the west gable a small window survives with one jamb and a trefoil head. The chapel was situated on land belonging to Merton Priory, known as ‘Capellond’ in 1538. It is likely to have been built in the late 12th or 13th century by the Canons of Merton as a Chapel of Ease for their tenants. Between 1937 and 1938, the area around the chapel was partially excavated and the stone remains consolidated. Several inhumation burials and pottery of late 13th century date, including two cooking pots and two jugs, were uncovered. The burials were found outside the south wall of the chancel and at the east end of the site. The chapel was abandoned by 1540 and thereafter fell into ruin.