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LETTER: History of Chapel Island
4:42pm Thursday 29th March 2012 in Letters
On the Nostalgia page, under the heading 'Did you know?' (Gazette, January 26) is the following: 'Chapel Island was built in the 14th century by Cistercian monks from nearby Conishead Priory to serve the needs of travellers and fishermen working in the Leven fisheries. The island lies on the path of the ancient crossing from Cartmel to Conishead.'
Chapel Island was not built - it is a natural feature of the landscape. It was originally called Harlsyde Island.
Its earliest written reference is May 14, 1593, in a notice of sale which stated: 'A certain isle called Harlsyde upon the sands there called Conyshed....' It was known as Chapel Isle from 1737.
The monks were not of the Cistercian Order, but Augustinian Black Canons Regular of The Order of St Augustine.
The hospital at Conishead was raised to a Priory in 1188.
A small chapel was built on the island, the monks being responsible for guiding travellers across the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay.
The 'Valor Ecclesiasticus' of 1535 records that: 'this house (Conishead Priory) paid an annual salary of 66/8d to John Hartly bailiff and conductor of all people of the lord king over the sands of the sea ....' The guide was also given three acres of land.
- Walter M Johnston, Lecturer for Lancashire County Council and Cumbria County Council for 30 years on the history of the counties, Barrow-in-Furness