St Mary's Chapel

From Historical Hastings

St Mary’s Chapel was built in the Norman period by the Earls of Eu. The chapel first appears in local records in 1372 under the seal of the Hastings Bailiff (most likely William Hayleman) and was re-constructed in the Early English Style. Brett claims a record showing that in 1212, the Earl of Eu presented the church to Daniel, son of Richard Clench[1] The church itself has been in ruin for many centuries. It is believed that a causeway was constructed linking the chapel to Hastings around 1369.


Partial excavations were carried out in 1861 by Mayor T. Ross, with a further excavation in 1929. Ross's excavations made with the permission of the Rev. S. B. Pigott, permitted the ground plan to be traced, and by the heap of ruins, the tower seemed to have stood longest, and to have fallen in one heap. The interior of the chancel was excavated to a depth of 6 feet, but nothing was found except some plain yellow paving tiles and the carved work. The tower, unlike the other portions of the Church, was faced with split flints of good workmanship. The groined roof of the belfrey had fallen almost entire, forming a mound 14 or 15 feet high; this was only partially excavated. The stone through which the bell rope passed was very much worn by the friction of the rope. The mouldings found among the débris appeared to have belonged to the windows in the chancel. The piscina in the north wall was very plain. The door jam was flush with the walls and without ornamentation. Within the niche was the groove which received the wooden or stone shelf serving the purpose of a credence-table, the bason was gone, but the drain pipe conveying the water away was about 4 inches from the wall and appeared to have no outlet. The position of the piscina in the north wall proved an early date, and was not of frequent occurrence in this country.[2][1]

Ross's investigations also gave the following dimensions; Length of the church within the walls, 101 ft.; length of nave, 57 ft. 8 in.; width of ditto, 23 ft. 6 in.; length of chancel, 25 ft.; width of ditto, 17 ft. 9 in.; the tower, 12 ft. 6 in. square.

Ross' plan of St. Mary's Chapel

The 1929 excavation, in addition to the finds reported by Ross uncovered several burials. Much of the fabric of the ruin was swept away when Bexleigh Avenue was laid out in the 1930s, with the road passing almost exactly through the centre of the church. However, the surviving walls were consolidated in the late 1980s.[3]


References & Notes

  1. a b Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 3 Chap. 40
  2. Suss. Arch. Coll. Vol. 14 Pg. 118
  3. Grade II Listed (Historic England listing 1002297)