Friday, August 27, 2004

St Nicholas, Help of Mariners

One of the highlights of our holiday in Ilfracombe was the climb up Lantern Hill to visit the 14th century Chapel of St Nicholas.

Stupidly, I did not take the camera on holidays (Doh!) so I have had to hunt on the web for photos.
Please have a look here for a photo of the Chapel on Lantern hill, and for another further down the page, showing the Chapel as seen from the sea...

The chapel as it stands now was built 1300-1325, but it is likely that there was a place of worship here long before that, as Ilfracombe was one of the best and safest harbours along this stretch of coast, and also because it was a stopping place for pilgrims visiting the ancient shrine of St Nectan at Hartland. The pilgrim path is marked by the remains of ruined chapels to this day.

The priest lived in rooms attached to the Chapel, and was responsible for keeping a light burning in the Chapel window to guide sailors into safe harbour.

During the Middle ages, the Chapel was used as a place of refuge from the Turkish pirates who harrassed the coast

After the Reformation, the Chapel was turned into a residence, but the lighthouse lantern remained and was extended. In the 1840s, one John Davie and his wife settled in the chapel and rooms, and raised 14 children there until they left in 1871. The chapel was later used as a Reading Room and a Laundry before being restored and maintained by the local Rotary Club .

In a lovely twist, there is a photograph and news paper article in the Chapel showing a descendant of the original Davie family being baptised in the Chapel...the first baptism/Christian service held in the chapel for 450 years.

The chapel area is now decorated and furnished as befits a chapel, with an altarstone and icon of the Mother of God.
I am seriously considering making a donation of an icon of St Nicholas, Help of Mariners, as a fitting ornament to the lovely Chapel which bears his name.
Maybe one day, an Orthodox service could be arranged there..........
One can only hope !
St Nicholas, pray for us !

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe one day we'll have such richly historical and Orthodox sites here in the Colonies. If we last that long. :)