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Tyne and Wear HER(773): St. Mary's Island, chapel - Details

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N Tyneside

St. Mary's Island, chapel

St. Mary's Island


Religious Ritual and Funerary

Place of Worship



Documentary Evidence

Though the evidence is poor, there is a strong tradition of a medieval chapel on Bates or St. Mary's Island. In the 18th century the chapel was in ruins. The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map recorded only "the supposed site of St. Mary's Chapel", and the antiquarian Tomlinson in 1889 confirmed that every trace of the chapel had long since gone. In spite of this, in 1909 Craster wrote "The chapel was dedicated to St. Helen; its erroneous ascription to St.Mary being perhaps due to traditions of the Lady-light, also called St. Katherine's light, which was burnt within it. The light had an endowment of five shillings rent, and was perhaps burnt continuously, though whether for devotional or humanitarian reasons is doubtful. A lighthouse, built upon the rock in 1898 by the Trinity House of London, has destroyed all traces of St. Helen's chapel, of which the ruins were still traceable within living memory". He also quotes a reference in the Earsdon parish register to a burial in "St. Ellen churchyard" in 1603.




<< HER 773 >> J.W. Fawcett, 1921, Ruined Northumbrian Churches,Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, 3, IX (for 1919-20), 55 W.W. Tomlinson, 1889, St. Mary's Island, Northumberland, Monthly Chronicle pp. 441-2 W.W. Tomlinson, 1893, Historical Notes on Cullercoats, Whitley and Monkseaton, p. 144 Ordnance Survey maps, 1858, 1st ed. 1:2500 LXXXI.12 H.H.E. Craster, 1909, Hartley Township, Northumberland County History, IX, pp. 97, 120 P. Brown, 1935, St. Mary's Island, Friday Books, pp. 133-5; North Tyneside Council, 2005, St. Mary's Island Draft Conservation Area Character Statement; St. Mary's Island, 2017, Archaeological Assessment

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