Worth Matravers, (St. Aldhelm's Chapel)
Worth Matravers (St. Aldhelm's Chapel)
Situated on the tip of St. Aldhelm's (or St. Alban's) Head, this small
chapel dedicated to St. Aldhelm is in the parish of Worth Matravers. It's early history is
obscure. It's architecture is Norman in style; later documents suggest
that it existed in the thirteenth century. There is an interesting legend
about its origins recounted in the chapel guide:
It is said that in 1140 a bride and groom were sailing
around the headland watched by the bride's father. A storm suddenly
arose, the boat capsized and both were drowned. The desolate father is
said to have built the chapel to their memory; and a light was always
to be kept burning to warn other sailors.
Whether this story is true or not, most authorities accept that this
small vaulted building was some kind of chantry. By the 17th and 18th
centuries, the chapel was beginning to become derelict. It was restored in
the 19th century, and re-opened as a chapel in 1874.
- Fletcher, J.M.J. and Dundas, C.L., The ancient Church of S.
Nicholas of Myra, Worth Matravers in the Isle of Purbeck with the Chapel
of S. Aldhelm on S. Aldhelm's Head. [Worth Matravers]: Vicar and
Churchwardens of Worth Matravers, 1921.
- Hope, M., Dorset. In: Humphrey, S.C., ed., Blue guide: churches
and chapels of southern England. London: Black; New York: Norton,
1991, p. 195.
- Hutchins, J. The history and antiquities of the County of
Dorset, 3rd ed., edited by W. Shipp and J.W. Hodson, Westminster:
J.B. Nichols, 1861-1873, Vol. 1, 1861, pp. 697-699.
- Jenkins, S. England's thousand best churches. London: Allen
Lane, the Penguin Press, 1999, pp. 165-166.
- John Kinross., Discovering England's smallest churches. London:
Wiedenfeld & Nicholson, 2003, p. 42.
- Newman, J. and Pevsner, N., The buildings of England: Dorset.
Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972, p. 358.
- Jackson, E.D.C. and Fletcher, E.G.M., St. Aldhelm's Church near
Wareham. Journal of the Archaeological Association, 3rd. ser.,
Vol. 26, (1963).
- Mee, A., The King's England: Dorset. London: Hodder and
Stoughton, 1939, pp. 203-205.
- Pitfield, F.P., Purbeck parish churches. Milborne Port:
Dorset Publishing Company, 1985, pp. 110-112.
- Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England), An inventory
of historical monuments in the County of Dorset, Vol. 2, South-East
Dorset. London: HMSO, 1970, pt. 2, pp. 411-412.
Current church guide (available 1998):
St. Aldhelm on St. Aldhelm's Head / 1st edition by Marjorie Wallace,
1985 ; 5th edition (revised) by Robert Watton, 1996.
A5 sized booklet that includes a history of the chapel, some speculation
on its origin and the 19th century restoration.
To Dorset Churches Index Page
Maintained by Michael Day,
Last updated: 2 October 2000.