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Lundy's Ecclesiastical History

Lundy Island

Ecclesiastical History of Lundy

   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Lundy Island

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Alfred E.Blackwell, in Trans.1960

from the Patent Rolls 'that on Oct.28 1254........the church of St.Mary, Lunday.

' the St.Helen in question may have been 'the widowed Queen Helen, or Elen, commemorated at Helland and Abbotsham churches and the chapel on Lundy island' (Rev.E.Boggis, History of the Diocese of Exeter), or St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. Dr.W.G.Hoskins, writing in 'Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries (xxvi.Oct.1954), recalls that on Lundy, on the cliff near Croyde and at Abbotsham chapels were erected and dedicated to St.Elen, 'who may be identified with St.Endelient, or Endelienta, one of the twenty-four children of St.Brychan, of whom St.Nectan (at Hartland and Welcombe) and St.John (at Instow) were two'.

'J.L.Warden Page, The Coast of Devon and Lundy Island;- says 'The ecclesiastical history of Lundy is somewhat barren and no certain date can be assigned to the erection of this church.'

'L. R. W . Loyd, Lundy, Its History and Natural History;- 'The ecclesiastical history of Lundy is obscure'.

'J. R. Chanter, our best authority, in his monograph 'Lundy Island', speaks of its ecclesiastical position as 'anomalous, it being not only extra-parochial, but extra-diocesan as it seems, having been left pretty much to itself since the suppression of monasteries. When attached to the Manor and Abbey of Hartland the spiritual duties were no doubt attended to by the monks of that abbey. At a subsequent period it appears to have become a distinct parish, with a church dedicated to St. Helena, and having attached to it an oratory dedicated to St.Ann.' This oratory chapel of St. Ann, or Anne, may have been a separate edifice to St. Helena's church, but where exactly situated I do not know.

'Benjamin Donn's Atlas of Devon Maps (1765) contains one showing Lundy, sadly incorrect as to shape, with 'A Well' in about the centre of the island and, a little to the south, 'Ruins of St. Ann's Chapel'.

'Cary's 'English Atlas' (1793) also shows St.Anns Chapel, apparently as the only point of interest on the island.

'On the other hand the following historians concur in naming St.Helen as the dedication.

'Camden (1607) says of Lundy: 'It had a fort, whose ruins, as also those of St.Helen's Chapel are still to be seen'.

'Westcote (1630): 'There are relics of a castle and of a chapel dedicated to St.Helen.'

'Risdon (c.1714) : 'The ruins of St.Hellea's chapel are yet to be seen.'

'Cox's 'Magna Britannia' (1720) : 'It had been some time ago a fort and a Chapel dedicated to St.Helen; but both are in ruins.'

'Lysons (1822): 'There are ruins of a chapel dedicated to St.Helen.'

'Steinman Steinman (1836) speaks of 'the ruin or rather site of St.Helen's Chapel...'

'Herbert de Marisco, the last of that name to possess Lundy, having forfeited the estate in 1321, was succeeded by Hugh le Despencer the younger, who presented Sir Walter le Bitte to the church of St.Helen 'de Londai' in June 1325.


'16 March 1338.....'Ecclesia Pariochialis de Londay'.

'14 August 1353....'Ecclesia Pariochialis Sancte Helene'.

'3 February 1355 ...'Sancte Helene de Lundey'.

'Fol.107,6. Collacio ecclesie Sancte Elene de Lundey'.

References to a church on Lundy ;-

1244, April 15, 'Calendar of Liberate Rolls,' - 'the church of the island (Londay)

1254, Oct. 28, 'Patent Rolls,' - ' the church of St. Mary, Lunday.'

1325, June, 'the church of St. Helen 'de Londai.'

1332, Oct 6, 'the church of Lunday.'

1338, March 16th, 'Ecclesia Parochialis de Londay.'

1353, August 14, 'Ecclesia Parochialis Sancte Helene.'

1355, February 3, 'Sancte Helene de Lundey.'

1381- 1396, 'Collacio ecclesie Sancte Elene de Lundey.'

1607, Camden talks of ruins 'of St. Helen's chapel are still to be seen.'

1630, Westcote writes of 'a chapel dedicated to St. Helen.'

1714, Risdon 'The ruins of St. Helea's chapel are yet to be seen.'

1720, Cox'x 'Magna Britannia,' a chapel dedicated to St. ruins.'

1765, 'Atlas of Devon Maps, Benjamin Donn,shows 'a well' and 'Ruins of St. Ann's Chapel.'

1793, 'English Atlas, Cary,' shows 'St. Ann's Chapel.'

1822, Lysons, 'the ruins of a chapel dedicated to St. Helen.'

1836, 'the ruin or rather site of St. Helen's chapel.'


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