St Anne's Chapel. Saunton. North Devon

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   St. Anne's Chapel. Saunton.
A chapel, dedicated to St. Anne. mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the patron Saint of Seafarers, once stood beside a road which ran north/south from Bideford to Appledore, across the river and continued to Saunton, cutting the present road, and continuing past Saunton Court to Georgeham and llfracombe. The Chapel stood on a spot just after the river had been crossed and was one of the ancient chapels situated within the parish of Braunton. Unfortunately the sand and the hand of man have removed all signs of this original building, but for a stone basin, which stands in the porch of the present chapel and is reputed to be the font. The present church dedicated also to St. Anne, is a small delightful chapel-of-ease set amid bracken and trees beside the main road which links Saunton with Braunton. It was built with money provided by the Mortiock-Brown family of Lobb, the land being donated by the Christie family of Glynebourne, Lewes.
Miss Mildred Mortlock-Brown of Lobb
laid the foundation stone in September, 1895,
the opening service was held on 29th April, 1896.

APRIL 30th 1896.

On the opening of the new mission rooms at Saunton Sands.
Nearly twelve months since Miss Mildred Mortlock-Brown of Sanfield, Saunton signified her intention of erecting a mission room for the residents of Saunton and yesterday evening the Opening Service was held in splendid weather. .....
..... read more.
Official website Google Streetview St. Anne's Chapel. Saunton.

1st Sunday in the month 11.00am BCP Holy Communion        
3rd Sunday in the month 11.00am Church led Morning Prayer
The interior was more austere than it is today, the only furniture being, rush bottomed chairs, a large oak desk and an harmonium. The cast window remained glazed in plain glass lights until 1906, when the present stained glass lights were constructed. The window was designed by Miss Mary Lowndes and put into St. Anne’s by Lowndes and Drury of Fulham, a firm she set up in 1897. (Miss Lowndes studied at the Slade Art School in London and became the first woman artist in stained glass. She was also the founder of the Artist’s Suffrage League in 1907 and designed many of the banners used in the Suffrage movement. Examples of her designs can be seen at the Women’s Library in London.)

The three lights which make up the east window depict St. Anne, St. Agnes and St. John. The centre light shows St. Anne. The face used for portraying St. Anne is that of Miss Mortlock-Brown’s mother. About her are flying doves with rings in their beaks, her emblem, and behind her is the sea. She stands on the sand hills, with viper’s bugloss growing at her feet, she hold a ship, and below against a background of the sea and fishing boats, is a picture of the original chapel of St. Anne. The left light shows St. Agnes. With her sword of martyrdom, St. Agnes wears a robe embroidered with lilies and stands in a meadow in the midst of tulips, fritillaries, daisies and columbines. The right light shows St. John. We see him in the isle of Patnos, writing the Apocalypse the emblematic eagle is beside him and in the far distance is the vision of the Holy City.

Original Source of Details Below

PROTECTED STATUS: Listed Building (II) 1444584: The Chapel of St Anne with Lych Gate, Saunton.

MATERIALS: external walls are constructed in snecked local stone. The pitched roof is covered in decorative red clay tiling with horizontal fish-scale patterned bands. At its west end, the ridge carries a small belfry with a splayed lead-covered spire topped with a cast iron cross finial.

PLAN: a single cell plan with a lean-to entrance lobby and a small vestry (converted from a former store), at its west gable end.

EXTERIOR: the chapel is entered via the lobby at the west end which has a segmental pointed doorway with a timber planked door. In the stonework to the side of the entrance of the west gable end, part of an arch is visible. This would have led into the nave that was never built, the current chapel originally planned to form its chancel. The side elevations have three tall segmental pointed windows. The east gable end has a large tripartite window. Beneath it, just above the stepped plinth, is a weathered foundation stone with the initials of the benefactor of the chapel, Miss Mildred Mortlock-Brown and the date '1895' (that to the left of the initials now no longer visible).

INTERIOR: the internal walls are lined in white brick (claimed to be from Peters Marland Brickwork, North Devon), with stone ashlar dressings. It has an arch braced collar rafter roof, with the arch braces resting on decorative moulded stone corbels. The ceiling is clad in diagonally set tongue and groove timbers. The three-light east window, signed and dated by Mary Lowndes, depicts St Anne, with St Agnes to the left and St John to the right, all three set in a landscape setting depicting local flowers. The nave has further late-C20 stained glass windows by unknown artists, including two examples depicting local flora and fauna, and dedicated to the former priest of St Anne's Chapel, Herbert Leonard Hustwayte 1893-1978 and Coralie Mallet Hustwayte 1896-1977. The timber pews and altar rail are late-C20 replacements.

ANCILLARY FEATURE: circa 30m to the south west of the chapel stands an early C20 lych gate, giving access from Saunton Road to the Chapel and its surrounding landscaped grounds. It is constructed in local stone and has a pitched tiled roof and timber gates.

Original Source of Details Below
Devon History Society. Mortlock-Brown, Dr Constance, Sanfield, Braunton.

Constance Anderson Mortlock-Brown[1] (1875 - 1949) was the third of the four daughters of John and Agnes Mortlock-Brown, born on 2 June 1875 and baptised in St Andrew’s Church, Clifton, Bristol on 4 July 1875. Her father, the Rev John Mortlock-Brown, had worked as a missionary in the Punjab[2] before returning to England and marrying Agnes Peard, whose family owned Sanfield, a large house and farm in Braunton.

The family moved from Clifton to Whirlow Grange in Eccleshall, spending their summers in Braunton.[3] John Mortlock-Brown died in 1878 and is buried in Braunton. At the 1881 census the widowed Agnes was living at 7 Radnor Place, Plymouth with daughters Ruth, Mildred, Constance and Hope Beatrice but this appears only to have been a temporary stay as in 1891 Agnes is listed at Whirlow Grange. Constance (aged 15) and her elder sister Mildred (17) are listed on that census as boarders at Rodney House School in Weston-super-Mare, principal Miss Fanny May. The school had four other teachers resident, a senior and a junior English mistress, a French mistress, and one who taught German and music. The girls were brought up as compassionate and devout young ladies: when they inherited money at the age of 21 Ruth spent some of hers on giving a holiday to workhouse children from London and Bristol, and Mildred built the chapel of St Anne at Saunton.[4]

In April 1901 Agnes, Mildred, Constance and Beatrice were living at Sanfield at the time of the census. Agnes, however, was already ill and was to die a few weeks later. The resident sick nurse in the house at the time was Annie Ball (q.v.), later known as the proprietor of nursing institutes in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

During this period Constance decided to train as a doctor. She is listed on the Medical Students’ Register in 1900. Her medical studies commenced at University College Hospital, London, on October 13. Her studies seem to have proceeded slowly, however. There are records of her passing examinations in 1904 (listed as ‘of Bedford College and Alwyne Institute’) and in 1910.[5] The Medical Directory for 1920, which lists her at Sanfield, Braunton, gives her qualification as LMSSA (Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery of the Society of Apothecaries). The Society of Apothecaries confirm that their records show her qualification on June 14 1917.[6] No indication that she actually practised as a doctor has yet been discovered.

Mortlock-Brown seems to have divided her time during the 1900s and 1910s between a flat (no 12) in the Manor House, St Marylebone in London, the address from which she completed the 1911 census, and Sanfield.

There is little to link Constance Mortlock-Brown with any specific pro-suffrage organisation. The artist whom she and her sisters employed in 1906 to create a stained glass window in the chapel of St Anne was Mary Lowndes, founder of the Artists’ Suffrage League, whom Constance may have known through activities in London. Votes for Women records a donation to the WSPU £100,000 fund from a Miss Mortlock-Brown in 1910.[7]

It was about that time that Mortlock-Brown took up the habit of letter-writing to the local newspaper. Her first letter published in the North Devon Journal, concerned the delays in decision-making over the provision of an electricity supply in Braunton,[8] but she then turned to the subject of women’s suffrage. A long letter of hers was published in December 1910 making the case for electors in the General Election to put Votes for Women top of the list (above constitutional reform and Home Rule for Ireland) when deciding how to cast their vote.[9] In May 1911 a further letter from her was published, this time addressed to local towns such as Barnstaple, asking them to join the 69 City and Town Councils of Great Britain who had passed resolutions in favour of Woman Suffrage.[10] In July 1912 she wrote, prompted by some remarks of the local Liberal prospective parliamentary candidate, a reflective letter about how women were being driven to militancy. She said that she had hoped that the British tradition was for reconciliation after a defeat, as had happened in the South African war, but that defeat over the Conciliation Bill had led instead to punitive reprisals against the suffragettes and thus to the ‘spirit of martyrdom that is abroad in the land’.

‘Arguments seem useless where woman suffrage is concerned. Protests alone weigh with the public and so with the government. Woman’s position is such that many Members of Parliament refuse to mention the subject on the platform or in their weekly letters, despite the fact that in many cases their wives are professed Suffragists. Many Parish Council are equally deaf to appeals that they will petition Parliament on behalf of the women. The women’s claim is set at nought whilst the working man is catered for. Who, then, can wonder that ‘protests’ increase in number and intensity?’ [11]

No further letters from Mortlock-Brown on the topic of women’s suffrage were published. When war broke out she sent on to the editor of the North Devon Journal a translation of a hymn of gratitude from a Belgian refugee that had been printed in The Times.[12] She was also, it appears, deeply affected by the death in action of one of the Sanfield employees, John Gammon, whose father was also employed on the estate, and she presented the local Congregational Church with a picture in memory of those who had given their lives for their King and Country.[13]

Mortlock-Brown lived on in Braunton with her sister Mildred after the war, although it appears that they moved out of Sanfield, as the Medical Directory for 1930 gives her address as Boode House, Braunton. She died on 20 August 1949, leaving effects worth over £7500, and is buried in the churchyard at Braunton.

Entry created by Julia Neville, December 2018

[2] North Devon Journal, (NDJ), 25 Oct 1908.
[3] NDJ, 27 Jul 1893.
[4] NDJ, 27 Jul 1893; 28 Aug 1895.
[5] British Medical Journal, Vol. 1 2252 (27 Feb 1904), 525; Nottingham Evening Post, 17 Jan 1910.
[6] I am grateful to the archivist at the Society of Apothecaries for consulting their records to find this reference in their register.
[7] Votes for Women, 27 May 1910, p.558.
[8] NDJ, 21 Apr 1910.
[9] NDJ, 8 Dec 1910.
[10] NDJ, 11 May 1911.
[11] NDJ, 25 Jul 1912.
[12] NDJ, 5 Nov 1914.
[13] NDJ, 30 Aug & 4 Oct 1917.

In the past 115 years St. Anne’s has been loved and cherished by all those who have worshipped here.
If you have never visited this beautiful little church, you are urged to do so.
It is set in amongst the trees, has panoramic views across the burrows to the sea
and is a most wonderful little haven to sit, listen to the birds, relax and talk with God.
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