In pictures: Work to start on ancient chapel

Restoration of one of Barnstaple’s oldest buildings will give it back to the people.

WORK to restore one of Barnstaple’s oldest buildings is set to start later this month.

Barnstaple Town Council has appointed contactors to carry out a 20-week programme of work at the Grade I listed St Anne’s Chapel in Paternoster Row.

The 14th century chantry chapel, thought to be the only intact example of its kind left in the UK, is being given a new lease of life thanks to a �148,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and �75,000 from Devon County Council.

The building, used in the past as a charnel house; a chapel; a place of worship for Huguenot refugees; a grammar school; and museum; is being transformed into a new arts and community centre.

Newly appointed St Anne’s Chapel manager, archaeologist Peter Doel said building, little used in the past 30 years, was of national importance.

“This whole area of Barnstaple is remarkable and worth preserving and protecting,” said Mr Doel, 42.

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“My role is to coordinate the chapel’s future use with local groups and give it back to the people of the town. It’s been a very busy time but really exciting to see these plans and dreams start to come to fruition.”

Contractor Pearce Construction is expected to start the project at the end of the month. Internal repairs will include re-plastering, new lighting, power, heating, and data points, while external work will include new lighting, toilets and access to the crypt, as well as some stone work.

The work is expected to be complete by the end of July, after which, dendrochronology will be carried out on roof timbers and beams to pin-point the date of some of the chapel’s oldest features.

Town clerk Anne Jenkins, said it was something the town council had wanted to do for a long time.

“A feasibility study in 2007 opened some opportunities but the building has restrictions and we are exploring how we can best use it within those constraints,” she said.

“The work has got to be done with a delicate touch to bring it up-to-date and give the chapel another chapter in its varied and fantastic history.

“The building has fabulous acoustics and we are now looking at many possible new uses including using it to host performances, plays and poetry readings.”

To find out more about the restoration project, visit the special St Anne’s page on the town council website by clicking on the link at the top right of this page.

For pictures of the inside of the chapel, click on the gallery link, also above.

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