Southwold Railway Trust Archive of Wenhaston

History Note #37: St. Margarets Chapel, Mells

History Note #37: St. Margarets Chapel, Mells
History and disputes regarding St. Margaret's Chapel

The earliest building still standing in the parish is St Margaret’s Chapel. It is over 900 years old. Built around 1104 it is a Norman Chapel of flint rubble. Attempts were made to establish it as a parish church, but this was denied them as it did not possess a burial ground and therefore was always subordinate to St Peter’s, Wenhaston. An edict of 1150 confirmed this, but the dispute rumbled on as in 1217 the whole problem was referred to Pope Honorious III no less. The Pope allowed the Lord of the Manor of Mells to be buried other than at Wenhaston, but the Rector had to swear fidelity to Wenhaston. In 1285 another abortive attempt was made.

In the 14th century the Manor passed up to Mettingham College, but the chapel fell into disuse and was abandoned around 1465 and in a map of 1783 was recorded as a ruin. However in 1493 a landowner in Mells became a landowner in Bramfield and to that time inhabitants of Mells paid half their tithes to Bramfield, but this landowner decided to pay the whole to Bramfield. Mettingham College objected and the case went to the courts. Sadly the man died during the case and then it went against the widow who had to pay the tithe to Bramfield but had to agree to attend the service there every Sunday!