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Bothal, Northumberland

Lady Chapel

Last Updated:

27 Jul 2023

Bothal, Northumberland

This is a

Church, Place of Worship

55.167965, -1.654639

Founded in 

14th century

Current status is

Ruined

Designer (if known):

4076554724_b6df6c95d4.jpg

Grade II listed

These neatly camouflaged stone walls are the remains of a 14th century chapel on the banks of the Wansbeck. It's known as the Lady Chapel, and is believed to have been constructed by the 1st Baron Ogle Robert, the owner of Bothal Castle.

It's said to be called the "Lady Chapel" in tribute to his wife Maud, daughter of John Grey and 1st Earl of Tankerville who served in the Hundred Years War under Henry V. A stone shield with the joint coat of arms is apparently on the gatehouse at Bothal Castle, which used to be incorporated into this chapel.

The chapel was small - 20ft x 20ft, built of sandstone and was roofed with stone slabs on large wooden ribs. On the side i'm standing there was a simple wooden door next to a "fine window of three lights". Much of the material from the chapel is likely to still sit in the Wansbeck below.

The Historic England listing states:

Listing Description (if available)

"Ruins of Lady Chapel on north bank of River Wansbeck II Chapel, mid C14 probably rebuilt in later C15. Squared stone with cut dressings. Single cell, only c.7 x 4 metres internally. Walls survive up to 4 courses high; jambs of doorway, with drawbar hole, in centre of west end. Carved shield with arms of Ogle and Bertram quartering Kirkby, removed in early C19 to Bothal Castle, imply construction by Robert 1st Lord Ogle (d.1363). C18 engravings show some late C15 features. (Relief shield with bearings carved on rock face 12 metres north-east of the chapel probably carved by a Morpeth curate early in C19)."

Both maps above illustrate the environs around the Lady Chapel between the 1860s and the 1890s. Though a rebuild was attempted in the late Victorian era, the chapel was in ruins for centuries before the 20th century. Interestingly the arbour was illustrated, which appears to be a shelter made of the surrounding trees or stems of plans - when I visited there were certainly traces of shelters though any trace it this specific shelter is probably gone. There is another man made shaft or feature next to Climbingtree Dean - this may be a shaft as they were common in these parts.

The 1890s map depicts a similar scene, though the Jubilee Well has only just appeared having becoming a prominent feature in the 1880s for Victoria's Jubilee. Dovecot Mill also appears to have ceased operations and was just a private dwelling by this time.

The 25 inch map surveyed in the 1910s provides a more in depth insight into the area, though remains undeveloped and very much parallel to the map surveyed in 1859.

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Photograph of the remains of Lady Chapel in the woods near Bothal. Many of the stones are either in the river or were stolen by local folk for their own constructions through the centuries.

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A Victorian attempt at rebuilding the chapel. Unknown original source, but retrieved from http://whatwemadethisweek.blogspot.com/p/our-ladys-chapel.html

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A drawing of the chapel from 1772, which was printed by Francis Grose in his publication The Antiquities of England and Wales volume 5.. Source: http://whatwemadethisweek.blogspot.com/p/our-ladys-chapel.html

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