WELCOME TO ST NICHOLAS CHAPEL
Perched on Lantern Hill overlooking Ilfracombe Harbour - the Oldest Working Lighthouse in the Country
This iconic little chapel perched on Lantern Hill overlooking Ilfracombe’s historic harbour, was first built in the 14th Century and was named St Nicholas after the patron saint of sailors.
Dating back to 1321 the chapel was built as a place of worship for the seafarers of Ilfracombe living and working around the harbour.
From around the 15th century the chapel maintained a beacon to guide shipping into the harbour. It is still a working lighthouse today and is said to be the oldest in the country and is maintained as such by Trinity House who look after all the lighthouses around Britain.
When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1540 St Nicholas ceased to be a chapel.
Between 1835 and 1871 a Mr John Davie lived in the chapel as lighthouse keeper with his wife Elizabeth where they raised a family of 14 children. During this time Elizabeth and two of their daughters took in laundry and the chapel was also used as a reading room by visiting gentry.
After this it remained much neglected until 1962 when it was restored by the Rotarians of the town and opened to the public. The old porch was transformed into a small chancel and occasional services are held there.
The chapel is now a Grade 1 listed building and is regarded as a special place of interest within the town and is an iconic landmark overlooking the harbour
Ilfracombe harbour webcam looks across the harbour towards St Nicholas Chapel so, if you cannot visit in person you can always take a look at our beautiful little chapel and the comings and goings of the picturesque historic harbour.
Whilst the chapel is owned and maintained by North Devon Council, it is still run by Ilfracombe Rotary Club who organise a group of volunteer custodians to man it during the season. It is one of the most visited attractions in Ilfracombe with 1000s of people coming to view it each year. It is free to look around but donations are welcome with all the money raised going to local charities.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
The Chapel is usually open Easter to October but due to Covid-19 restrictions this has not been possible, however, we are happy to announce that we shall be opening from Monday 19th July and shall be open daily from 10am to 4pm until the end of September.
The Chapel is free to look around but donations are most welcome, with all proceeds going to local charity groups.
Please note that St Nicholas Chapel is accessed by a steep sloping path. Whilst it is accessible by wheelchair the ascent and descent can be strenuous.
St Nicholas Chapel, The Quay, Ilfracombe