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ST CATHERINES ORATORY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  THE PEPPERPOT
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A medieval lighthouse forming the west tower of an oratory, and the remains of the oratory, set within a medieval enclosure on St Catherine's Hill. The lighthouse survives as a stone tower (known as the Pepperpot), octagonal on the outside and square within, originally consisting of four stories. Eight windows on the third floor form the lantern. The lighthouse, which formed the western tower of the oratory, is all that survives of the original building. However, the remains of the walls are visible as earthworks forming three sides of a square with the lighthouse on the open, west side. The oratory walls are about 12 metres apart and survive to a height of one metre. Partial excavations in 1891 revealed the building plan. The lighthouse was completed by 1328. It was built by Walter de Godeton, a local landowner, who was condemned by the Church for stealing casks of wine from a shipwreck which had occurred in 1314 off Chale Bay. The Church threatened de Godeton with excommunication unless he built a lighthouse above the scene of the shipwreck together with an adjoining oratory. The oratory was to be endowed to maintain a priest to tend the light and to say masses for souls lost at sea. The tower's arched door-heads suggest it was substantially repaired in the mid 16th century, possibly with the threat of the Spanish Armada. The duties were apparently carried out until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Surrounding the lighthouse and oratory on their north, west and south sides is a bank about 0.5 metres high and 5 metres wide. It is likely that the fourth side of this enclosure has been levelled by cultivation. The oratory is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.