Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Bath and North East Somerset (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:



RALPH ALLEN DRIVE (west side), Mortuary Chapel in Abbey Cemetery



Cemetery chapel. 1844, by G. P. Manners. MATERIALS: Limestone ashlar, beaver-tail slate roof. PLAN: Bold single cell neo-Norman chapel in three-bays, with square 'east' end and square tower over porte-cochere, with square pyramidal stone spire.

EXTERIOR: Four-stage tower with clasping buttresses. Ground floor stage with arched openings to three sides, with steps leading to porch; main opening is taller, with flanking triple shafts; the sides with single shafts but all with cushion capitals and deep chevron moulding to voussoirs. Blind intersecting arcading to second stage with lancet openings in centre; third stage with corbel-table and two-light louvred belfry openings under plain tympanum to each face, set between shafts carrying an arched hood above; final stage consists of a broad, pyramidal spire with finial rising above a corbel-table. To left small stair turret through first two stages, with narrow door, and two slit lights. Porte-cochere on sandstone landing on three steps, and has quadripartite vaulting on ribs springing from corbels. Inner arch has scalloped embellishment, and in two orders. Plank and strap-hinge doors rise into arch, and have protective grille. Broad nave has three Norman lights with nook shafts set high each side, and flat separating buttresses returned at head to Lombard bands. Plinth, sill band and impost band threaded to buttresses. Coped gables on moulded kneelers, with open stone terminal cross to east. East end has rose window with trefoil tracery, in panel under Lombard band following gable slope, under window moulded band to corbel table, plat intersecting blind arcade. To middle of north side straight flight of sixteen stone steps, within retaining walls with horizontal coping all at right-angles to wall. Round arched doorway with plank door gives to crypt.

INTERIOR: Single cell, with open timber queen-post trussed roof; arched moulding to west entrance; east end has a broad, round arched recess to centre flanked by smaller arches, all with shafts with scalloped cushion capitals above. Windows, with splayed recesses, blocked up. An unusual series of marble memorial tablets with matching surrounds of billet-moulded Bath stone. Arcade of arched marble tablets with similar surrounds runs along lower wall: monuments are thus housed in highly contextual surrounds to preserve overall Norman effect of interior. Some pews, lectern remain in store here.

HISTORY: A boldly conceived cemetery chapel, designed in the relatively unusual Neo-Norman style (cf. Lansdown Cemetery), and one which forms a prominent incident in the landscape of Bath's south-eastern fringes. The depth of modelling and vigour of decoration is notable, as is the scale and its dominant position overlooking the cemetery. The chapel spire was reconstructed in 1996-97. Abbey Cemetery was one of the three cemeteries to be laid out by John Claudius Loudon, the great guru of early Victorian landscape design, and is the best example of his specific theories on cemetery design, fusing a formal lay-out with informal planting. It was designed in 1843, and was among Loudon's last projects. Laid out on land formerly belonging to the Prior Park estate, it was opened for use by the Bishop of Salisbury on 30th January 1844, and survives remarkably intact. The cemetery is now in the guardianship of Bath City Council.

SOURCES: Neil Jackson, 'Nineteenth Century Bath. Architects and Architecture' (1991), 100-106. Drawings for the chapel are in the city Archives.

This asset was previously listed twice. The duplicate record (List entry number 1396356) was removed from the List on 17 January 2019.

Listing NGR: ST7587263561


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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