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St Catherine’s Oratory

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This unusual medieval building is located just under a mile west of Niton on the Isle of Wight.  It was originally an oratory on the top of the hill, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. In 1313AD Walter, Lord of Chale, was tried by the church for plundering wine from the shipwreck of the St. Marie of Bayonne which had become stranded in Chale Bay.  The wine had been destined for the monastery of Livers in Picardy. Faced with the threat of excommunication de Godeton agreed to build the monks a lighthouse overlooking Chale Bay so as to save lives and prevent further shipwrecks.  The lighthouse augmented the existing oratory including a chantry to accommodate the monk who would be looking after the light.

The Lord of Chale never actually saw the project completed as he died in in 1327 and the lighthouse was only finished in 1328.  It was in constant use for the next 213 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries around 1541AD.  Over the following centuries the structure stood up reasonably well to the weather and may have been used as a look out point for the Spanish Armada.  It eventually fell into disrepair but during the 18th century Sir Richard Worsley of Appuldurcombe House reinforced the structure by adding four large buttresses to what was left of the structure to prevent its downfall.  What remains of the medieval lighthouse tower is known locally as the “Pepperpot” and is one of a series of cliff-top monuments that are part of the Tennyson Heritage Coast.  It is in the care of English Heritage.



Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Lower Road, Adgestone
Isle of Wight, England, PO36 0HL
+44 (0)1983 403 432

Contact Details

  • Address: St Catherine's Oratory, (Off) Blackgang Road, Chale, Isle of Wight, England - PO38 3NZ
  • GPS: 50.593372293093466,-1.3036394119262695
  • Phone: N/A
  • Part of UK: England
  • Sat Nav Postcode: PO38 3NZ
  • Entrance Fees: Free Access
  • Disabled Access: Poor (grass track across field +/- half a mile)
  • Visibility from Road: Poor
  • Website:

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