Ancient Monuments

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Medieval chapel called St Govian's Chapel, 200m south east of Gwithian Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Gwinear-Gwithian, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.2272 / 50°13'37"N

Longitude: -5.3827 / 5°22'57"W

OS Eastings: 158831.020296

OS Northings: 41829.863909

OS Grid: SW588418

Mapcode National: GBR FX22.R72

Mapcode Global: VH12G.NK76

Entry Name: Medieval chapel called St Govian's Chapel, 200m south east of Gwithian Bridge

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1926

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006700

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 59

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Gwinear-Gwithian

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Phillack

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a chapel situated amidst sand dunes in the Garrack, to the south of the Red River. The chapel survives as a rectangular two-celled building, which is completely obscured and preserved by drifting sand. The chancel measures approximately 5.1m long by 3.7m wide, and the nave 9.7m long by 4.2m wide, with drystone walls of up to 1.5m high. The chapel was first recorded by Leland in about 1538, but was covered with sand by 1750. In 1827 it was rediscovered and found to contain an intact altar at the western end. At this time the building was re-roofed and used as a cowshed. St Govian's or Gothian's Chapel with its surrounding graveyard served as the church and cemetery for Connerton (the original name for Gwithian) until the 13th century when it was abandoned because of an influx of sand and a new church was built. The name Govian referred to a local saint. 19th century photographs of the building remain and it was last visible in 1940.

Much is known about the medieval chapel called St Govian's Chapel 200m south east of Gwithian Bridge as a result of work undertaken by Thomas who re-examined the excavation reports from 1827 and has produced the likely history of the building. At the lowest levels were early burials which surrounded a wooden oratory from the 5th or 6th centuries. A stone chapel was built over this in the 7th or 8th centuries and after a period of covering of wind blown sand a second stone chapel was built at a higher level with more burials alongside it in the late 9th or 10th centuries, a later chancel was added in the 10th or 11th centuries.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-425093

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. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. St Govan's still survives buried beneath the sand and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating its use, development, periods of abandonment, social and religious significance.

Source: Historic England

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