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The Chapel of St Anne with Lych Gate, Saunton

List Entry Summary

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

Name: The Chapel of St Anne with Lych Gate, Saunton

List entry Number: 1444584


9 Saunton Road, Saunton, Devon, EX33 1LG

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

County: Devon

District: North Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Braunton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II

Date first listed: 21-Jul-2017

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

A chapel of 1898 designed by the architect Frederick James Commin of Exeter (1854-1933) with matching lychgate and a stained glass tripartite window by the Arts and Crafts artist Mary Lowndes (1856-1929).

Reasons for Designation

The Chapel of St Anne, Saunton, Devon, built in 1898 to a design by the architect Frederick James Commin (1854-1933) with a stained glass tripartite window by the Arts and Crafts artist Mary Lowndes (1856-1929), together with its associated early-C20 lychgate, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is a good example of a late-C19 chapel by the architect Frederick James Commin, displaying good quality design and architectural detailing;

* Fixtures and fittings: it has a good interior containing a particularly interesting east window of 1906 by the Arts and Crafts artist Mary Lowndes. Made at the height of her career as a glass artist, it is a fine example of her work, expressing good artistic qualities;

* Historic interest: its association with Mary Lowndes, an important and influential Arts and Crafts glass artist and Chairwoman to the Artists' Suffrage League, who as a woman in the late C19 and early C20, having set up her own business and living together with her life partner Barbara Forbes, a fellow Suffragette, lived a particularly independent life;

* Group value: it forms an interesting group with the adjacent Saunton Court (listed Grade II*) and its garden (registered Grade II).


The Chapel of St Anne was built in 1896 to a design by the architect Frederick J Commin (1854-1933). Commin had his architectural practice in Exeter. His designs include the Methodist Church in Sidwell Street, Exeter (1905), listed at Grade II*.

The Chapel of St Anne replaced an earlier chapel in the parish of Braunton situated closer to the sea. The current chapel was originally intended as a chancel to a much larger church that was never built (Cherry & Pevsner, p37). The land belonged to the Christie family of Glyndebourne, who had built their holiday home in Saunton in 1895, and planned a holiday village, including Saunton Sands Hotel and Saunton Golf Club. The building of the Chapel was funded by Miss Mildred Mortlock-Brown, but the Christie's supplied the construction materials. The east window of 1906, donated by William Langham Christie, was designed and executed by the Arts and Crafts stained-glass artist Mary Lowndes (1856-1929). Lowndes trained at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She studied with the stained-glass artist Henry Holiday (1839-1927), but was mostly self-taught. In 1897 she founded the stained-glass studio Lowndes and Drury, in London (listed Grade II) with Alfred J. Drury, former head glazier at Britten and Gilson. Between the 1890s and 1920s Lowndes made over 100 windows for churches, commercial premises, and houses (Armstrong, 2004 for Oxford DNB). From 1907 she joined the suffrage movement as a non-militant, and became chairwoman of the Artists' Suffrage League, for whom she designed many banners. She published the designs in her article On Banners and Banner-Making in The English Woman (1910). During the First World War she was a member of the Women Welders' Union. After the War, Lowndes and Drury made many war memorial windows. Mary Lowndes lived at 27 Trafalgar Square, together with her life partner Barbara Forbes, a fellow suffragette.


A chapel of 1898 designed by the architect Frederick James Commin of Exeter (1854-1933) with a stained glass tripartite window by the Arts and Crafts artist Mary Lowndes (1856-1929).

MATERIALS: external walls are constructed in snecked local stone. The pitched roof is covered in decorative red clay tiling with horizontal fish-scale patterned bands. At its west end, the ridge carries a small belfry with a splayed lead-covered spire topped with a cast iron cross finial.

PLAN: a single cell plan with a lean-to entrance lobby and a small vestry (converted from a former store), at its west gable end.

EXTERIOR: the chapel is entered via the lobby at the west end which has a segmental pointed doorway with a timber planked door. In the stonework to the side of the entrance of the west gable end, part of an arch is visible. This would have led into the nave that was never built, the current chapel originally planned to form its chancel. The side elevations have three tall segmental pointed windows. The east gable end has a large tripartite window. Beneath it, just above the stepped plinth, is a weathered foundation stone with the initials of the benefactor of the chapel, Miss Mildred Mortlock-Brown and the date '1895' (that to the left of the initials now no longer visible).

INTERIOR: the internal walls are lined in white brick (claimed to be from Peters Marland Brickwork, North Devon), with stone ashlar dressings. It has an arch braced collar rafter roof, with the arch braces resting on decorative moulded stone corbels. The ceiling is clad in diagonally set tongue and groove timbers. The three-light east window, signed and dated by Mary Lowndes, depicts St Anne, with St Agnes to the left and St John to the right, all three set in a landscape setting depicting local flowers. The nave has further late-C20 stained glass windows by unknown artists, including two examples depicting local flora and fauna, and dedicated to the former priest of St Anne's Chapel, Herbert Leonard Hustwayte 1893-1978 and Coralie Mallet Hustwayte 1896-1977. The timber pews and altar rail are late-C20 replacements.

ANCILLARY FEATURE: circa 30m to the south west of the chapel stands an early C20 lych gate, giving access from Saunton Road to the Chapel and its surrounding landscaped grounds. It is constructed in local stone and has a pitched tiled roof and timber gates.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Cooper, E (author), The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years, (2005 (1st edn 1985)), 37
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Devon, (1989), 720
Mary Lowndes' Album of Banner Designs for the Artists Suffrage League (1908), accessed 15 March 2017 from
Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies, entry for Mary Lowndes, accessed 15 March 2017 from
V&A Archive of Art & Design, Lowndes & Drury, stained glass makers: records, 1893 -1987

National Grid Reference: SS4570637685


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End of official listing