Italian Chapel

During World War 2, a major construction exercise took place on Orkney. Scapa Flow (which, btw, is Cockney Rhyming slang for 'Go') was a major port for the Royal Navy. However, there were several openings to the east - facing Norway which was occupied by Germany. A German U boat got throughn these openings in 1939 and sank HMS Royal Oak - one of the major ships of the RN.

In order to secure the moorings from attack through these gaps, barriers/causeways were constructed from Mainland to South Ronaldsay. These barriers were build by Italian Prisoners of War. There were no Catholic chapels available to the POWs, so they worshipped in a couple of old Nissen huts joined end to end on Lambholm where their camp was. One of the prisoners, Domenico Chiocchetti, decided that this was not a fitting place for worship, and he started on a programme of improvements using cheap materials.

The rest of the POW camp has now disappeared, but the Italian Chapel remains.

St Magnus's Cathedral, Kirkwall

The front of the Chapel. This is made of brick and cement, and hides the corrugated iron structure of the building. The roundel over the entrance is a bas relief of Christ's face.

Looking out from the Chapel to the Italian Flag, and Scapa Flow beyond. Alos decorating the view is the rear of my car, and the back of Nancy Tague.
The Bishop's Palace, Kirkwall
The Earl's Palace, Kirkwall The altarpiece. The stone is not stone, but trompe l'oeil painting.
A longer shot of the choir area. The screen was made from scrap metal by a POW blacksmith.

For more information about the Italian Chapel, go here or here

Created 15 June 2001.
Feedback? Broken Link?