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Medieval chapel and enclosures 570m north west of Wheal Freedom

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3013 / 50°18'4"N

Longitude: -5.2345 / 5°14'4"W

OS Eastings: 169755.660607

OS Northings: 49601.005713

OS Grid: SW697496

Mapcode National: GBR Z3.822X

Mapcode Global: VH125.7P2C

Entry Name: Medieval chapel and enclosures 570m north west of Wheal Freedom

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019213

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32924

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Agnes

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The scheduling includes a medieval chapel and enclosure, remains of an
adjoining enclosure, and a post-medieval building overlying the east corner of
the chapel. The scheduling is situated on a shelf of a steep west slope above
a stream gully on the cliff east of Chapel Porth. A 10th century date has been
suggested for the chapel's foundation, which is closely associated with the
site of a holy well beyond this scheduling, in the bottom of the gully.
The chapel lies near the centre of an enclosure on a platform levelled into
the slope. It is sub-rectangular in plan, orientated south west-north east,
and measures about 7.3m by 2.9m internally. The west end of its north west
long wall is visible as an earthwork 3.4m long by 2m wide and 0.9m high
on the outside, 0.4m high inside. A mound 4.9m long east-west by 3.4m wide,
adjoining the later building on the east, is thought to be part of the
chapel's north corner. The south east long wall is visible as an indistinct
earthwork up to 1.9m wide and 0.2m high.
The sub-rectangular enclosure closely surrounding the chapel and sharing its
orientation measures approximately 16.9m north east-south west by 13.2m north
west-south east externally. It is bounded by a scarp up to 3m high in the
slope on the north east and south east sides and by an earth and stone bank
averaging 2.6m wide and 0.6m high on the north west and south west sides.
Internally it is levelled to produce a platform sloping gently south west. A
gap 0.8m wide near the centre of the south west bank is considered to be an
original entrance.
Remains of a further enclosure associated with the chapel are visible as a
scarp in the moderate natural slope 5.5m long and 0.3m-0.5m high, curving
north west from the levelled cut of the chapel enclosure to the edge of the
natural shelf above the stream gully.
The east of the chapel and its surrounding enclosure is modified by a post-
medieval sub-rectangular building, considered to be a store or shelter. It
measures 3.9m north east-south west by at least 2.2m north west-south east
internally. The roofless ruin has stone faced banks or walls on the south west
and north west sides, cutting off the corner of the enclosure. The entrance,
to the north, is 0.7m wide at the base, broadening above as the scarp slopes
away. A linear hollow 0.4m wide and 0.1m deep along the top of the scarp on
the north east of the enclosure may have been designed to take runoff water
from the slope above away from this structure.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 chapel and enclosures 570m north west of Wheal Freedom survive reasonably
well. Although the walls of the chapel have been reduced in size, and there is
limited modification for the addition of a post-medieval structure,
substantial earthworks remain. Structural remains of the chapel will survive
below ground, as will original deposits associated with the chapel, and the
underlying old land surface. The location, on a cliff top and close to a
spring formerly used for a holy well, illustrates clearly the important role
of topography in the siting of medieval chapels.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Borlase, W, Parochial Memoranda, (1750), 37
Mattingly, J, 'The Poly, Magazine of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society' in Pre-reformation holy wells in Cornwall, (1998), 8-11
Mattingly, J, 'The Poly, Magazine of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society' in Pre-reformation holy wells in Cornwall, (1998), 9,10
Tonkin, T, 'History and Antiquities of Cornwall' in History and Antiquities of Cornwall, , Vol. 2, (1702), 175
Warner, R B, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Rediscovery of the Chapel at Chapel Porth, St Agnes, , Vol. 4, (1965), 41-43
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1879

Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1906

Source: Historic England

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