La Wallen Chapel

DSC_0051A footpath crosses fields from Gidleigh to the lane connecting Chapple to Moortown farm on the ‘top road’. The path has a wet section that would take more than a spade or shovel to improve. Starting from the Chapple/ Moortown end, the path enters a small wood and continues over a clapper bridge. Just downstream from the bridge and signposted off the path is La Wallen chapel at SX6692188927. A good deal of research has been done regarding the chapel, an article about its history appears in the Dartmoor Magazine, Summer 2014.

It is thought that one Robert de Middlecote held masses there and that ‘on the 28th of March, 1328 he raped Agnes, daughter of Roger the Miller in or around the chapel of La Wallen.’ There has been a mill at Gidleigh since 1194 and it’s possible that the cleric would come into contact with local residents.

The fate of Robert de Middlecote is not clear, a trial of said Robert was held at Exeter Cathedral on June 1st 1329. However, a Robert de Middlecote is associated with Lidwell chapel, another desecrated chapel near Dawlish. Here Robert went on to offer hospitality to travellers, only to drug them, rob them and proceed to throw their bodies down an adjacent well.

At one time, La Wallen was used as a cattle pen. A later owner planted oak trees inside it to prevent the building that had once been consecrated from further such use. The oaks have since been felled to prevent further damage.