The Little Chapel, Guernsey
Photo taken late 1960s.
The Little Chapel was a work of art and labour of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The version you see today is actually the third version.
The first, measuring a tiny 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, was criticised, so Brother Deodat spent the following night demolishing the building. He soon set to work again and, in July 1914, the grotto was completed and officially blessed. This survived until September 1923; Brother Deodat demolished it in that month because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to fit through the doorway.
The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Presents poured in from around the world and Islanders brought coloured china to Les Vauxbelets with the Lieutenant-Governor offering a remarkable mother-of-pearl.
In 1939 Brother Deodat returned to France because of ill health. After his departure the care of the Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas, who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965. In 1977, a committee was established to restore the chapel and today it falls under the care of Blanchelande College.