Medieval Chapels in Devon
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The work is an examination of medieval chapels in Devon which can be regarded as distinct from parish churches. The topic, which covers the period between 1044 and 1550, is set in a general historical context. A wide range of documentary sources has been used in identifying an estimated total of 1,300 medieval chapels in Devon, the principal source being the episcopal registers. Others include early charters, surveys of church property, antiquarian studies, visual sources, modern historical sources, and some evidence from archaeology and place-names. A database of identified medieval chapels in Devon has enabled analysis of the material and provides the basis of a gazetteer of chapels, included at the end of the dissertation. The origin and development of chapels is discussed in the context of canon law, which conferred upon them subordinate status in order to protect the financial interests of parish churches. A discussion of sources forms the second chapter. The categories of chapels and the range of people served by them are introduced before turning to the functions of chapels and activities in them. Worship and the liturgy were of primary importance but some chapels had additional social roles, especially chapels associated with cults or public services. A discussion of topographical factors and the location of chapels follows, in which comparison is made with Lincolnshire. In the final chapter, patrons, staff and people are considered and an increase in lay initiatives in matters relating to the Church is demonstrated, especially from the late-fourteenth century. The study shows that chapels provided a variety of religious outlets and served a wide range of people, and demonstrates their great social significance before the Reformation. The work provides the first comprehensive list and study of chapels in any English county.
The original copy of this dissertation is held in the University's Main Library and may be accessed upon request
MPhil in History