St Helen's Church, Lundy
|Saint Helen's Church|
View from the north-west
|Location||Lundy, Devon, England|
|Architectural style(s)||Gothic Revival|
Saint Helen's Church, also often known as Saint Helen's Church and the Church of St Helena, is an Anglican church on the 445 ha island of Lundy, lying at the mouth of the Bristol Channel, 18 km off the north coast, and part of the county, of Devon in England. As there is no resident priest on the island, the church is only irregularly used to hold services, though it is open to visitors. It is part of the Diocese of Exeter.
The site was originally just a burial ground with memorial stones dating from between the 5th and 8th centuries. The church was started in 1244 as 'The Church of the island' but with no official name (Calendar of Liberate Rolls, 15.04.1244). A single reference to the site is known to exit as "Church of St Mary" in 1254. A small chapel on the island, probably founded in the 12th or 13th century, was dedicated to Saint Elena; it fell into disrepair by the 17th century. A temporary corrugated iron structure was dedicated to Saint Helen in 1885. The present square-towered stone church was built in the mid-1890s by the Reverend Hudson Grosset Heaven, financed by an 1895 bequest from Sarah Langworthy, born Sarah Heaven, of the Heaven family which owned Lundy from 1834 to 1918. The church was designed by eminent Victorian architect John Norton, completed in 1896 and consecrated on 17 June 1897 by Edward Bickersteth, the Bishop of Exeter.
The NW-SE orientation of the church does not conform to the usual east-west alignment, possibly a result of a deep bed of clay found at the site when the foundations were laid. It is largely built of local granite ashlar blocks derived from ruined cottages on the island. The tower is about 23 m in height. The cost of its construction was £4104/5/7, with architect's fees of £286/0/8.
St Helen's Church is an "extra parochial place", meaning that Lundy Island does not fall within the boundaries of any ecclesiastical parish (in similar manner, Lundy is not part of any civil parish); however the church is in the care of the Hartland Coast Team Ministry. The church and island are part of the Deanery of Hartland, the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, and the Diocese of Exeter.
The slate roof has crested ridge tiles and stone coped gable ends. The tower, with an adjoining square stair turret, has battlements, gargoyles at the corners and lancet bell-openings with trefoil heads and slate louvres. There is a clock face above a niche containing a figure of Saint Helena, over the chamfered, wooden-gated, arch doorway to the porch.
The interior comprises a nave with a porch beneath the tower, and a chancel, with a transept vestry on the north side. The interior walls are of polychrome brick, red with black and white bands and diapering. The chancel arch is of moulded stone dogtooth decoration with colonnettes on corbels supporting the capitals. The reredos is arched on Purbeck marble colonnettes with alabaster carving depicting the Last Supper. The east window and rose window at the west end contain stained glass.
Other features of the church include a piscina and sedile, an altar rail with wrought iron standards, a low stone screen, carved stone pulpit and square font. There are ornate wrought iron lamp brackets on the north and south walls of the nave and a pipe organ on the south side of the chancel. It is furnished with benches, which include choir stalls, and a carved wooden eagle lectern.
A ring of eight bells installed in 1897 cost an additional £425/18/6. From the late 1920s the bells became unsafe and fell into disuse; in the 1950s they were removed from the tower and stored in the porch. They were eventually refurbished and restored to the tower in working order in July 1994.
- "Lundy: St Helen - CHR Church".
- Orme, Nicholas. English Church Dedications: With a Survey of Cornwall and Devon. University of Exeter Press (1 Nov. 1996). p. 238. ISBN 978-0859895163. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF LUNDY" (PDF). lundy.org.uk. Journal of the Lundy Field Society. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "The Story of the Lundy Bells". The Lundy Island Society of Change Ringers. Archived from the original on 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- Status and Team membership both recorded at the ACNY webpage, officially sponsored by the Church of England.
- Details recorded on the official diocesan website.
- "Church of St Helena, Lundy". British Listed Buildings. English Heritage. Retrieved 2012-07-08.