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Archcliffe Chapel Biography

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Archcliffe Chapel is also known as  aka Our Lady of Pity Chapel. It is a small chapel formerly close to Archcliffe Fort and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Here is a brief timeline of the Chapel's histroy:

1530:

  • It was restored by Joachim de Vaux. It is believed the Chapel was already an ancient building in this period.
  • The Chapel had strong French connections. De Vaux was the French ambassador to England and restored the Chapel after he escaped death by shipwreck. 
  • Over the door of the Chapel was a stone with the arms of England and France on. On another door was the rose and crown and the date 1530.

1535:

  • In 1535, the Chapel was served by Friar John de Ponte who was unpopular in the town. In 1535, the arms of France were destroyed and de Ponte and de Vaux wrote to Cromwell complaining that the mayor of Dover had tried to turn them out of the Chapel. 
  • De Ponte remained in possession, despite the fact that it was discovered that the Pope's name came before the King's in the mass book.

1538:

  • de Ponte was imprisoned, charged with communicating with the French during the war by keeping lights burning in the chapel at night.
  • Subsequent harbour workings undermined the site and it either fell into ruin or was washed away by a storm.

1576:

  • In this year the Chapel is named as the residence of a fisherman.
  • Bavington Jones mentions a graveyard that was near the military hospital at Archcliffe, used in the 18th Century. The yard was called The Graves from 1666 when plague victims were buried there in large numbers (4-500). He says it was probably once attached to the Chapel of Our Lady of Pity which stood until 1576 at Archcliffe Point.

1580

  • The Archcliffe fortification in the area was part of the major fortification of the South coast by Henry VIII in circa 1580.

1842

  •  The ruins of the chapel were discovered and then destroyed when  the Southeastern Railway was being built.

References:

Statham, A. H.: The History of the Castle, Town and Port of Dover 1899 (Longmans and Co.)

Bavington Jones, J.: Dover A Perambulation 1907

ed. Calvin, H. M. The History of the Kings Works Vol. IV (HMSO) 1982

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