Stanton St Gabriel...
Stanton St Gabriel is a picturesque ruin on the western face of Golden Cap.
Now reduced to the “preserved” partial shell of the Chapel walls and a remaining house, this was once the site of a saxon settlement and was recorded in the Domesday Book after William did his Norman Conquering in 1066.
By the sounds of it, Stanton St Gabriel was never exactly a thriving community and struggled to find funds to keep the Chapel weatherproof from the 1500s onwards. Given the hamlet’s extremely exposed and elevated location this is probably not surprising as on windy and wet days this is a “weather-rich” location. Even though the remains of the Chapel and the thatched house are in a bit of a hollow, they are still clearly going to take a pounding when the weather’s bad.
When the weather’s good on the other hand. This is a fine place to be. It’s not the most atmospheric place in Dorset, but it does have an old world charm about it. The views are great and there’s a pleasant sense of solitude compared to the sometimes busy summit of Golden Cap itself, which is only a few hundred metres away.
The Chapel is also said to have something of a sad, if romantic history. It is reported that the reason it was built was because two newly weds, escaping from a storm stricken ship in a small boat, came ashore here. The husband prayed to St Gabriel for their salvation and promised to build a chapel if they were saved. Despite his wife dying in his arms on the beach, he was as good as his word. Though whether the Chapel is truly a monument St Gabriel or to love lost, who can tell for sure.
Reaching Stanton St Gabriel is relatively easy, in that if you are heading up to, or down from, Golden Cap, the route is clearly signed. But the track to what’s left of this hamlet is definitely the path less travelled compared to the main highway of the South West Coast route itself. The main drag on this side of Golden Cap is definitely the pathway from the summit to Charmouth (or vice versa). And for many walkers the added investment in time and effort in walking down the slope to Stanton St Gabriel may be one they can’t be bothered to make. On a fair day, that’s their loss. But historically, a very similar decision making process was Stanton St Gabriel’s loss.
In what would have passed for its heyday, this small settlement was itself on the main drag for coach traffic from Bridport to Charmouth (think “horse and” rather than “52 seater”). But the road was costly to maintain and a new road was built through Morcombelake. This was the end for the remaining populace of Stanton St Gabriel who moved away to scrape a living in less well ventilated parts of the locality.
So, in essence, this little hamlet on the Western slope of Golden Cap, is now a dead little hamlet. Apart from walkers, wildlife and grazing livestock the only life remaining is through the thatched house now converted and used by the National Trust as holiday lets for the last 40 years or so.
Now reduced to the “preserved” partial shell of the Chapel walls and a remaining house, this was once the site of a saxon settlement and was recorded in the Domesday Book..."