Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Medieval chapel near Chilgrove, 295m north-west of Yewtree Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in West Dean, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9351 / 50°56'6"N

Longitude: -0.8144 / 0°48'51"W

OS Eastings: 483405.119783

OS Northings: 115744.324697

OS Grid: SU834157

Mapcode National: GBR DFK.BX0

Mapcode Global: FRA 965M.Y94

Entry Name: Medieval chapel near Chilgrove, 295m north-west of Yewtree Cottage

Scheduled Date: 11 August 1978

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005814

English Heritage Legacy ID: WS 456

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: West Dean

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: East Dean, Singleton and West Dean

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a medieval chapel surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on a gently sloping ridge of chalk downland, north of Chilgrove in the South Downs.
The chapel survives as a rectangular depression located next to a road known as Chapel Lane. Partial excavation in 1977 revealed a rectangular nave and semi-circular chancel. This ground plan is unlikely to be later in date than 1180. The remains of flint and chalk walls were uncovered, as well as greensand paving within the nave and a brick plinth for the altar. Pottery finds included pre-Conquest sherds of underfired gritty fabrics, although these were unstratified and cannot be relied upon for secure dating of the chapel. Pottery of later date, including sherds of early 15th century dishes, and roof tiles were also found and testify to use during the medieval period. The chapel is first mentioned in a survey of 1210. The area is referred to as the 'tithing and chapelry of Chilgrove' in documentary sources. It may have been dedicated to St Margaret and probably served, or was associated with, the deserted medieval village at Monkton, a scheduled monument just over 1km to the north-west. The chapel was demolished between 1618 and 1636.
The monument excludes the modern marker posts but the ground beneath these features is included.

Sources: West Sussex HER 821 - MWS6303. NMR SU81NW39. PastScape 246264.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 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.
The medieval chapel near Chilgrove, 295m north-west of Yewtree Cottage, is an abandoned chapel site which survives well. It has been shown by partial excavation to include below-ground archaeological remains relating to the original construction, use and history of the chapel. The location of the scheduled remains of a deserted medieval village in the vicinity of, and probably associated with, the chapel adds to its group value.

Source: Historic England

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