The main draw for tourism in Honiton is inevitably the antiques, but there
are several other attractions nearby. Wolford Chapel and Escot Estate and
Aquatic Gardens are two such attractions.
A sleepy little chapel on the outskirts of Honiton, this is one of the most
unusual sites in the area. The reason is that it is owned and maintained by
the Heritage Foundation of Ontario, Canada. The chapel was built by General
John Graves Simcoe, a man who went on to influence the structure both political
and social of the Canadian province of Ontario. His reputation has endured
for over a century and the interest in his life is apparent from the number
of Canadian visitors to the chapel. Honiton is therefore, in the pleasurable
position of boasting a little speck of Canada amongst East Devon rolling hills.
Wolford chapel was built in 1802 by General John Graves Simcoe, who served as the first Lieutenant -Governor of Upper Canada between 1792 and 1796. Although he only spent four years in Canada, Simcoe substantially influenced the political, social and economic development of what is now the province of Ontario. In fact, his reputation has endured in the history far more than any of his successors.
The Chapel and its collection of antique furniture and decorative arts were generously donated to the people of Ontario in 1966 by the British publisher Sir Geoffrey Harmsworth. At the same time, A.G. Le Merchant, owner of the Simcoe Estate, donated an easement to Ontario for the right-of-way to the Chapel.
Since 1982, Wolford Chapel has been owned and maintained by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit Crown agency which acquires and holds title property for the people of Ontario.
Wolford Chapel occupies a fenced plot approximately 88 feet by 65 feet on the former Simcoe Estate. It is thought to have been erected on the ruins of a medieval abbey. In 1806, Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe was buried in the chapel. His wife and five of his eleven children are also interred there. The Chapel has never been substantially altered and appears much the same as it did when it was built. The interior displays many fine examples of Jacobean workmanship. There are a number of other historic sites with connections to Simcoe in the vicinity of the Chapel.
The Chapel is open to the public during daylight hours. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. A group of dedicated volunteers assist with the day to day operations of the site.