After 18 months of conservation and structural repair works, Guernsey’s ‘Little Chapel’ is fully open to the public as of Saturday 8 April 2017.
Thought to be the smallest chapel in the world and one of Guernsey’s key tourist attractions, the Little Chapel has been hiding behind scaffolding since October 2015 while it has undergone re-stabilisation works, reinforcement of retaining walls, and roof and spire repairs. The work has included using historic photographs from Guernsey archives to re-apply original decoration, repair damaged crosses, and restore the chapel’s eminent mosaic finish.
The chapel, which measures just nine feet long by five feet wide, can only accommodate a few people at a time and its walls are unusually made up of thousands of fragments of china, seashells and pebbles. Nestled in Guernsey’s inland parish of St. Andrews, the current chapel is over 90 years old, built by Brother Deodat, an exiled French monk, to emulate the sacred grotto at Lourdes. It had survived 90 years with virtually no damage, even during the WWII German occupation.
The project has so far cost £180,000, while the overall anticipated investment will be around half a million pounds once new flooring and lighting have been installed. A re-ordering of the beautiful landscape around the chapel will also take place to provide better access and viewpoints, as well as more extensive planting of trees and shrubs. A small interpretation building set within the landscaping will tell the story of the Little Chapel, its construction and restoration, and provide toilets for visitors. Guernsey’s CCD Chartered Architects and Interior Design donated their time and expertise for the repair and restoration of the Little Chapel at no charge.
The full opening of the chapel aptly coincides with the first day of the Channel Islands Heritage Festival, which celebrates the history of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm with a series of events, activities, tours and exclusive openings over five weeks from 8 April 2017. The chapel is free to visit, however donations are essential for its continued repairs and horticultural enhancement.