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St Edmund’s Chapel

In the mid 13th Century the monks of the Priory of St Martin  established a cemetery for the poor with its own small chapel  near to the Maison Dieu. The chapel, dedicated to St  Edmund, was consecrated on 30 March 1253 by Bishop  Richard of Chichester . St Richard had always wanted to  dedicate a chapel to St Edmund, who had been his friend.  The fulfilment of this wish was one of Richard’s last acts as he died four days later in the Maison Dieu. After his death  Richard’s body was returned to the chapel to be ‘eviscerated’  (have the internal organs removed) in preparation for the  journey to Chichester Cathedral to be buried. The viscera  were buried in the chapel altar and both places later became  places of pilgrimage.   The chapel was dissolved along with the Maison Dieu in 1544.  Its history since then is only sketchily known. Immediately  after the dissolution, it was probably still associated with the  fortunes of the Maison Dieu and became part of a victualling  store for the Navy. After that it became a store-house for the shops which came to be built in Biggin Street. In the middle  of the nineteenth century it was converted into a two-floor  building, and became a dwelling-house and forge.   In 1943 artillery shells destroyed the two shops hiding the  chapel on the Priory Road side, leaving the chapel itself  untouched. Attempts to get it scheduled as an Ancient  Monument in 1963 failed and it was scheduled for demolition.  In 1965, however, it was privately purchased and restored in  1967/8. At least 75 percent of the building seen today is  original. 
St Edmund's Chapel c.1970.  The chapel after restoration. Back to Churches Index