Abbotsbury, St Catherine's Chapel

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The quiet side of the world

You can tell that when the monks of Abbotsbury Abbey began constructing St Catherine’s Chapel, all they were after was a bit of peace and quiet.

Sitting on a hilltop beside the Dorset coast, isolated from the rest of the world, the abbey has been watching over the land since the 14th-century.

Yet remarkably after all that time, it’s barely changed.

And really the land around hasn’t much either.

Chesil Beach stretches off down the coast on one side and fields run away into the horizon on the other, just as they would’ve all that time ago.

The journey begins!

Walking up from Abbotsbury village, along Chapel Lane, you might be lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of the chapel through the hedgerows.

From below, the building’s solitariness is amplified.

Every curve and arch are silhouetted against a backdrop of blue sky, with the occasional tree here or there keeping the building company – passing clouds the only movement for miles.

You’ll find the pathway leading to the chapel at the end of Chapel Lane. There’s quite a steep incline so be sure to come prepared with plenty of water and the determination to reach the top.

Every step of the way, the views just keep on getting better. The sea seems to stretch further and further away, the fields doing exactly the same on the other side.

Finally… reaching the top

It’s a spectacle seeing the chapel from a distance, but when you’re up close and can see every individual stone and ancient scar, it somehow manages to become even more impressive.

Wander around and absorb all the intricate details and sculpting covering the outside. Head through the doorway and stroll through corridors of stone leading to the main hall at the chapel’s centre.

A wander through the garden

It won’t take long to explore the chapel, giving you plenty of time for a visit to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens nearby.

After the silence and stillness stood atop the hill, the colours and life thriving within the gardens are completely astonishing.

Plants from every corner of the world with their own delicate perfumes line pathways left for you to roam.

Drive home with the floral smells of the garden filling the car and the wonder of history tempting you back the first chance you get.

Chapel Hill,
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