The Little Chapel at Les Vauxbelets in St Andrews, Guernsey is heavily mosaiced both inside and out.
It is difficult to know just how to describe this place so once again, I have flickr to be thankful for. In some respects it is incredibly kitsch. Who would expect wall to wall shells, china and tiles to be anything else? But on the other hand, they seem to have pulled it off. The place does have a certain charm and it is pretty.
The history of the place is interesting.
In 1680 Jean-Baptiste de la Salle founded 'The Brothers of the Christian Schools', a religious fraternity of men devoted to the education of boys. In 1904 the French government passed anti-religious laws proscribing all religious schools. Many religious went into exile and it was in this climate that a group of de la Salle brothers arrived in Guernsey in June 1904 and acquired Les Vauxbelets (=the pretty little valleys). The brothers developed the estate and buildings. They constructed a large wooden hut, a stone building and a farm.
The chapel is tiny and it was built by Brother Déodat starting in March 1914. This is actually the third incarnation. The first chapel that he built was hated by his peers so he pulled it down immediately. The second which was a bit larger survived 9 years until 1923 when he pulled it down because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to pass through the doorway.
The current incarnation was started but with the onset of WWII and due to poor health, Brother Deodat returned to France. Brother Cephas continued to decorate the building until he retired in 1965. It was a bit neglected until 1977 when a committee was set up to restore the chapel and necessary renovations occurred.
An article in the Daily Mirror made the Chapel famous and donations of china, mother of pearl and the like augmented the pebbles and broken china that had already been collected.
In 1999 Brother Christantian, who was faced with the prospect of having to sell the site, had the vision and inspiration to offer it to Blanchelande Girls' College on a long term lease. He firmly believed that this was God's will and it provided Blanchelande with the permanent home it had been seeking. Brother Christantian died soon after and is buried on the grounds as are many ofhis predecessors.
A way of the Cross inspired by that at Lourdes has since been built around the chapel with the Chapel itself being the fifteenth station depicting the Resurrection of Christ.