The Village of Beer: East Devon

Religion in Beer

Prior to 1906 Beer was part of the parish of Seaton and Beer and thus the Seaton vicar was responsible for serving the churchgoers of Beer. In 1906 Beer became a Church parish in its own right and so had its own vicar, Rev. A. Hollis.

On the site where the Church currently stands, stood a Chapel until 1876. This Chapel was probably built by the Walrond family who were Lords of the Manor. According to Arthur J.Chapple in “Beer in Time and Tide”, the Chapel was built in 1500, but the Church’s own guide is rather more conservative and states that it “stood on the site since around 1600 A.D.”

The present Church of St Michael was consecrated in 1878. The cost of the building was borne by Hon. Mark Rolle who was the Lord of the Manor. It was originally built with a spire, but this was removed in 1964 for safety reasons, and replaced with the current tower. The present Church contains 2 memorials from the Walrond Chapel.

According to Arthur J.Chapple in his book “Walk Beer with me”, when the Walrond Chapel was demolished in 1876, a cave was found under the eastern end of the building. He suggests that this cave had been used by smugglers.

The Gospel Hall took over 2 years to build and was completed in 1700. It is said that the door of this building was made from the timbers of a Spanish ship that was wrecked in the bay. This was built and paid for by a group of Dissenters who used it until 1856 when a new chapel,the Congregational Hall, was opened for service. The Gospel Hall was then taken over by the Wesleyans and is currently used by the Plymouth Brethren.

The Congregational Hall currently contains a Wurlitzer organ, believed to be the first to be installed in the U.K. The Chapel was enlarged in 1880 and in 1920 the adjacent house was purchased.

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