St Catherine’s Trilogy – Part 2
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St. Catherine’s Oratory, a mediaeval lighthouse on St. Catherine’s Hill on the south coast of the Isle of Wight.
In February 1314, Walter de Godeton was put on trial in Southampton before an Island jury for the theft of wine from a shipwreck in Chale Bay the previous year. He was found guilty and fined 287 marks.
However, as the wine was bound for the monastery of Livers in Picardy, de Godeton was also tried by Church courts for the same offence. The Church threatened to excommunicate de Godeton unless he built a lighthouse near Chale Bay.
There was already an oratory on the top of the hill, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. This was augmented by the construction of the lighthouse, so there would be a chantry to accommodate the priest who tended the light. The priest would also say Mass for those lost at sea.
The lighthouse was completed in 1328, a year after de Godeton’s death, and was in active use until the Dissolution of the Monasteries circa 1540.
Date: 29th October 2009.
Click here to see Part 3.