January 13, 2009

Frère Deodat, The little chapel

picture from Wikiwand

The Little Chapel is a singular architecture located on the isle of Guernsey, a British crown dependency with its own government and currency. Situated closer to France than to England, Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands.

Life and works

The chapel was created by French priest frère Déodat, who around 1913 settled in les Vauxbelets, a property acquired in 1904 by a French fraternity of teaching priests. Dédoat had left France when the French concept of laïcité involved that from that year on all schools should be public ones.

In 1914 frère Déodat began building a little chapel and a grotto from pebbles, shells and stones, inspired by the Lourdes grotto and basilica.

This rather small construction  (1.5x3 meters) did not answer his and others' expectations, so he demolished it, to begin immediately with a new creation. This one lasted lasted from 1914 until 1923, and was demolished too.

Subsequently the third version was created and this one currently still exists.

 picture (1993) Magnus Manske  
licensed under Wikimedia Commons 

With its footprint of 3 x 5 meter (9.9 x 16.4 ft) it is a small chapel indeed. At the inside and the outside the building is fully covered with shell decorations and decorative mosaics.

In 1939 frère Dédoat returned to France. Brother Céphas took over the maintenance of the site, until in 1965 he retired. The brothers of the fraternity kept the chapel in good order until in the 1990s the fraternity ceased to exist.

Actual situation

From 1999 on the chapel was cared for by the Blanchelande Girls College, which is located on the premises of the former fraternity of priests.

Taking care of the mosaics is a matter of continuing concern. Donations will help, so Wedgwood Company's offer of broken tableware to cover the stairs at the entrance of the chapel with mosaic, was rather welcome.

In 2015 a project started to restore the chapel. And in May 2017, after a long period of researching the various complicated legal aspects, ownership of the building and some surrounding land was transferred to a Foundation settled in Guernsey, which implies that the Little Chapel now belongs to that island.

Some documentation
* Series of pictures on the weblog of Dr Tony Shaw
* The Little Chapel on Wikiwand

* Video by Boojangles (YouTube, 2008, 9'38")

* Another video by Ed Here (YouTube, 5'13", uploaded february 2013)

Frère Déodat 
The Little Chapel
Les Vauxbelets
GY6 8XY Guernsey 
can be visited by the public

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