Stanton St. Gabriel – Morcombelake

A cross, made from wood from the old chapel resides over the west door..

Photo credit: Ann Bartlett

All that remains today of Stanton is the ruins of the chapel and one farmhouse. The old hamlet mentioned in the Domesday Book was made up of agricultural workers, by the 18th century the working population began to drift into Bridport to find jobs in the Rope Works. Furthermore, due to constant erosion the old coach road that passed through the village was replaced by a new turnpike road built further inland, thus isolating the village, the remaining inhabitants drifted away.

Chapel of St. Gabriel
The earliest known reference to the chapel is 1240 when it was a Parish Church. At some time during the Middle Ages it became a chapel-of-ease to St. Candida and Holy Cross. There were continual reports of the cost of repairs to the chapel, its age and the weather took its toll. By the end of the 18th century it was only used occasionally, the music being supplied by the church band from Whitchurch “who marched over with their instruments, with the Parson riding his horse”.

After the new chapel was built the old one was no longer used for its intended purpose, but became a “receiving house for smuggled kegs”. Smugglers came ashore on the deserted beaches, up the rough cliff track and stored their contraband in the isolated, disused chapel.

Now the ruins are used for occasional outdoor services.

A local legend tells the tale of Bertram and his new bride, passengers in a frail ship on tempestuous seas. The chance of survival being slim, the captain allowed the couple to take the one small boat. Bertram prayed to St Gabriel to save them, promising to raise a shrine to him wherever they landed. For two days they were exposed to the storm. When the boat finally landed at Stanton, Bertram carried his wife ashore, where she died in his arms. He was distraught but did not forget his vow.

Photo credit: Sue Holmes, Anne Bartlett

St Gabriel`s Church
The church was built in 1840-41 to serve the community at Morcombelake, which had increased in size because of the new turnpike road. Most of the cost of the building was borne by the Rev. W. Law who had been vicar of Whitchurch. There is evidence that the rood beam said to date from c.1500 was salvaged from the old chapel, repaired and re-used. A cross, made from other wood from the old chapel now resides over the west door, thus linking the two.

Visit Stanton St Gabriel’s, Morcombelake

Contact Stanton St Gabriel’s, Morcombelake