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Lamanna Chapel site above West Looe

Lammana or Lamanna priory was a small Benedictine cell on the island of Lammana now called St George’s or Looe Island off the south Cornish coast near West Looe. It was one of the remotest possessions of Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset.

However, it was probably not the first religious community on the island. During the 6th century a small Celtic monastery is said to have existed on Lammana.

Amphora fragments from the Aegean dated c500 AD have been found on the island possibly associated with a lann.

The place-name Lammana contains the Cornish place-name elements lann [early Christian enclosure] and manach [monk].

A broad ditch appears to surround the summit of the central knoll on the island, perhaps indicating an early enclosed site.

The medieval chapel and cell were transferred to the mainland to a new site, also called Lammana, in the 12th century.

The chapel on the island is shown on a map of the south coast of Cornwall in 1539 as a small rectangular edifice one-storey high, without a tower.  A partial excavation of the site in 2008 uncovered sections of the north and west walls, and revealed a burial within the chapelm probably of a cleric or layman of high status.

Two large carved stones preserved on the site may have been part of the chancel arch, subdividing the building inside. The chapel on the mainland stood on a small platform just below the top of the hillside, opposite the island chapel and immediately beneath a lane shown on the tithe map of 1839.

The shape of the chapel was rectangular, internally measuring about 8.22 metres (27 feet) in length and 4.72 metres (15.5 feet) in width, perhaps having been extended at some time towards the east. It eventually included a chancel, nave, and a substantial south proch, while steps in the north wall opposite the porch suggest another doorway which may have been accessed from the lane above.

On 17th August 1548 'the island of Lamane' and the chapel and lands belonging to it were sold with other chantry property to Thomas Bell, knight, of Gloucester and Richard Duke, esquire, of London.  

The footings of parts of the wall of the mainland chapel and preserved and may be visited, as many an 8-metre stretch of a wall of the Monks House. The site of the chapel on the island is identifiable, but nothing is visible there above the ground.

Content derived from research undertaken as part of the Victoria County History project

Content derived from research undertaken as part of the Victoria County History project

Results (3 assets)

Plantagenet (1154-1485)
Medieval (AD410-1485)
Medieval (AD410-1485)