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Mysterious Medieval Chapel

I took a walk at a local woods today, climbing the hill to a long abandoned, remote, stone built chapel.

View out to sea above the woods.

St Michaels Chapel, perched above the aptly named Chapel Woods in Torquay, is believed to have been built around 700 to 800 years ago. No records have so far been found to provide any details of it's history, but it has a few unusual features including an eneven floor which is simply the limestone bedrock of the cliff, with no attempt ever made to cut it level. Another distinctive feature is the thick stone roof which is unusual for this region of England.
The position of the building is strange in itself, being at the top of a cliff, with access only available from a steep and narrow winding path which follows the ridge of the hilltop.

There are many local stories and legends about the site:
It was a votive offering built by mariners who escaped from a shipwreck.
A lamp was lit at night to serve as an early lighthouse or point of reference for ships entering the bay.
Secret tunnels link the chapel to the local monastery Torre Abbey.
A ghost saved the life of someone near the site.
A hermit lived there in isolation.

All of it however is without any evidence so the place remains a bit of a local mystery.
One of the few known facts is that the cross on the roof was added in the early 1800's by a wealthy nobleman.
To me though, it's just a lovely place to sit and escape the busy traffic and noise of urban life.

2 blog comments below

Very cool, watersoul. Thanks for sharing. No picture of the inside? I like the view from there. I might want to move in after removing the trees from the roof.

I do like the idea of being an early lighthouse or a outlook against foes.
standready on Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:58 pm
Cheers Standready, my pics of inside were rubbish as my phone has no flash and I could only peep through the bars which the council have bolted on the door & windows.
The roof would need a bit of work for sure, it's almost a mini ecosystem with moss, grass, flowers, trees and associated crawly things living there.
It's also an official listed building so it would have to be restored to original condition which would mean the uneven floor would have to stay.
I'll try to get a decent pic of the inside as that crazy bedrock floor is almost hard to believe until you see it.
watersoul on Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:22 am

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