One of the smallest working churches in England, Dover’s Chapel of St Edmund of Abingdon is also the only church still in existence that was dedicated to one English saint by another. It was consecrated in 1253 by Richard, Bishop of Chichester, who dedicated it to his friend St Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had died in 1245 and was canonised in 1247; Richard himself was canonised in 1262.
It was completed in 1262 as a wayside chapel or chapel of rest for the cemetery for the poor beside the Maison Dieu, just outside the enclosed part of the medieval town, a short distance above Biggin Gate, and for pilgrims setting off for Thomas Becket's shrine at Canterbury Cathedral.
Richard died just three days after the dedication ceremony in the nearby Maison Dieu. His body lay in rest in the chapel before being returned to Chichester Cathedral for burial. His internal organs were removed and buried in a cist under the chapel’s altar, where it can still be seen.
Following the 16th century dissolution of the monasteries, the chapel had various uses, including becoming part of a victualling store for the Navy, a storehouse for nearby shops and a blacksmith’s forge. Scheduled for demolition in the 1960s, the chapel was saved by a group of private individuals who purchased it for preservation. The chapel was restored using stones from Faversham Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, re-consecrated for worship in 1968, and in 1973 was granted Grade II* listing status. Over three quarters of the chapel is the original medieval building.