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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Group Category Details: A - see notes
  • Date Added: 08/12/1971


  • Local Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Planning Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Parish: Walls And Flotta

National Grid Reference

  • NGRND 27035 89349
  • Coordinates327035, 989349


W R Lethaby, 1900. Single storey, rectangular-plan chapel. Random rubble; sandstone; harled E gable; dressed quoins and surrounds to openings. Dressed eaves course to N elevation. Roll-moulded eaves course to gables.

N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: timber boarded and studded door to right. Roll-moulded, round-headed door surround; thick plinths to base of surround; circle (sun); crucifix (Christ) and crescent (moon) symbols to arch apex. 2 steps lead into chapel. Cross-incised slab to right of doorway. Inscribed plaque to right of slab. Quadripartite window to left of door; chamfered stone mullions. Narrow, stained glass window to left. Buttress to left of window.

E ELEVATION: tripartite chancel window; moulded stone surrounds and mullions. Small star-shaped window above; square sandstone surround. Anchor and crucifix finial. Tall harled wall (kitchen garden) extends eastwards from left gable. Exposed long and short quoins to left quoin of chapel above wall.

S ELEVATION: 2 narrow windows to right. Garden walls extend from right and left gables.

W ELEVATION: 2 rows of 3 grouped lancets to centre; moulded stone surrounds and mullions. Square-plan bellcote surmounts W gable. Arched opening in W and E; small rectangular opening in S and N. Upturned boat shape to curved roof; single bell.

Leaded windows. Outer casements, inner fixed lights to quadripartite window. Flat skews; moulded skewputts. Asymmetrically pitched stone slate roof. Chimney vent to left of S roof.

INTERIOR: flagstone and red tile floor. Harled interior; exposed sandstone surrounds to windows, cills and band course. Pointed barrel vault. Central moulded column in window recess to quadripartite window. Pointed-arch surround to stained glass windows in N and S walls. Stained glass window depicting the Crucifixion by Morris & Co, designed by Edward Burne-Jones in N wall. Exposed stone arch spans width of chapel, dividing chancel from nave; flat head to arch. Chamfered stone band course extends from base of arch eastwards to chancel. Metal heart-shaped lamp holders mounted to N chancel wall and S nave wall. Aumbrey to left of altar; stone surround; 2 studded timber doors; 2 steps lead up to chancel; black and white tiles to second step. Central stone altar on plinth; St Columba cross decorating and projecting chamfered top. Tripartite window above altar; roll-moulded surrounds; 2 moulded mullions to front of cill; cill extends along length of gable wall. Stained glass to central window depicting the Nativity by Morris & Co, designed by Ford Madox Brown. Gable apex slightly recessed; star-shaped window within. Stained glass window of St Colum by Christopher Whall, to right of altar. Small carved ivory panel, Adoration of the Magi, on S wall. Stained glass window by Christopher Whall to right of chancel on S wall, depicting St Margaret. Plain timber screen to rear enclosing vestry; central doorway. Small stove in vestry. Circular, blocked hole for bell rope; square stone surround. Central round-headed arch frames 2 rows of lancets. Sandstone tabs to surround. Cylindrical font on base. Roll moulding to shaft; circular basin; wavy bands to base.

Statement of Special Interest

A-Group with Melsetter House, Kitchen and Walled Gardens, Lodge and Gatepiers, Burial Enclosure, Estate Office, Gardener's Cottage, The Hall, Laundry House and Spinning Cottage. A private chapel, in use as such. Melsetter Chapel was consecrated in June 1900 and is dedicated to the Saints Colm and Margaret. The S elevation of the chapel fits well within the earlier walled garden, making up part of the garden wall, and the uneven stone surrounds, windows and finial add interest to the harled courtyard walls to the W of Melsetter House. Built to seat 39 people, the chapel has timber, moveable chairs at present (2000). Melsetter Chapel has an early example of a vaulted concrete roof used on an ecclesiastical building and was the prototype for Lethaby's All Saints' Church at Lower Brockhampton, Herefordshire which was built 2 years later with a vaulted concrete roof, clad in thatch. The plaque to the right of the doorway explains that the cross-inscribed slab is a copy of one thought to be circa 900 AD, found in the graveyard of the old church of St Colm, Osmondwall. Lethaby was one of the most prominent exponents and promoters of the Arts and Crafts movement. Thomas Middlemore, a Birmingham industrialist bought the Melsetter Estate in 1898. At that time it comprised the entire island of Hoy, as well as the adjacent smaller islands of South Walls, Fara and Rysa. Melsetter had been the home of the Moodie family from the late 16th century until around the earlier 19th century. The majority of the remaining structures at Melsetter which were retained by Lethaby were greatly modified, however, the 1881 OS Map shows a large building on this chapel site which was later removed. The remodelling/construction of the house and surround buildings at Melsetter was one of Lethaby's most important commissions. It is unusual in that it involved the redevelopment of an entire complex of buildings, which form a harmonious whole.



2nd Edition OS Map, 1976; G Rubens, WILLIAM RICHARD LETHABY, 1986, pp129-140, 148-154; L Burgher, ORKNEY, 1991, pp75-76; J Gifford, HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS, 1992, p342-343; T Garnham, MELSETTER HOUSE in ARTS & CRAFTS HOUSES I, 1999.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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