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Domestic chapel of St Katharine of Alexandria and burial ground

A Scheduled Monument in Lydiate, Sefton

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Latitude: 53.5367 / 53°32'12"N

Longitude: -2.9611 / 2°57'39"W

OS Eastings: 336398.646856

OS Northings: 404884.412734

OS Grid: SD363048

Mapcode National: GBR 7WRJ.QX

Mapcode Global: WH86N.HC5H

Entry Name: Domestic chapel of St Katharine of Alexandria and burial ground

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1949

Last Amended: 22 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017499

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27602

County: Sefton

Civil Parish: Lydiate

Built-Up Area: Maghull

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Lydiate and Downholland, Saint Thomas

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument includes a ruined chapel together with a burial ground surrounded
by a rectangular earthen enclosure and a shallow ditch. The chapel was erected
by the Ireland family before the death of John Ireland in 1486. His initials
appear above the porch.

The chapel, also known as Lydiate Abbey, is a rectangular building with a
tower at the west end and a porch at the western end of the south wall. The
building measures 15m by 5m externally and is decorated with stepped
buttresses at the corners and at 3m intervals along the walls. The walls of
the chapel stand to their full height and are in good repair. The tower stands
to its original height, without a roof, and has diagonal buttresses and three
stages. The west window in the west wall of the tower has its tracery missing.
On the east wall of the tower, the line of the chapel roof is visible as a
drip moulding, 6m above the present floor of the interior. The porch has only
the lower courses of stonework left and shows a shallow Tudor style archway
through to the interior. In the south wall are three-light perpendicular style
windows with some tracery remaining. The north wall is blind with an arched
entrance at the western end. The chapel is Listed Grade II*.

The burial ground is defined by an earthen bank and external ditch and is
rectangular in shape, measuring 37m north to south and 40m east to west inside
the bank. The bank is 4m wide at the base and stands up to 0.5m high where it
is best preserved. A 4m gap on the east side may be the eroded original
entrance. Ditches for field drainage lie outside the enclosure on the south
and west sides. There is a shallow ditch on the west side and traces of a
shallow ditch on the east side. These ditches are not necessarily part of the
original construction. Burials within this enclosure continued until the late
19th century and there are gravestones in a group on the south west side.
The concrete plinth for a notice on the eastern side of the burial ground is
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 at Lydiate was built as a family domestic chapel for a
local landowner. Such chapels are unusual in that the Reformation abolished
Catholic worship in such buildings. In many cases chapels were then
absorbed into the parish system or abandoned. This building continued in use
for many years after the 16th century and the present ruins are well preserved
in spite of the loss of the roof. It is also unusual as such domestic chapels
are normally in the grounds of the emparked estate or actually part of the
structure or outbuildings of the great house with which they were associated.
The building is a good example of a late 15th century ecclesiastical structure
and preserves many original features.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gibson, Fr T E, Lydiate Hall and its Associations, (1876), 174-5
O'Hanlon, D, St Catherines Chapel Lydiate; A Preliminary Review, (1977), 43-57

Source: Historic England

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