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Little Chapel

4 mins

The roof of Europe’s smallest working chapel needed urgent repair and the result won Polyroof and Sarnian Roofing the Liquid Applied Roofing & Waterproofing and Hot Melt category at the UK Roofing Awards 2018.

little chapel

The Little Chapel located in the heart of Guernsey is a mere 4.87 m by 2.74 m, making it possibly the smallest functioning chapel in Europe, if not the world.

The chapel was partially built in 1939 by Brother Deodat Antoine of the ‘Brothers of the Christian Schools’ Catholic religious order. Encrusted with a mosaic, of broken china, pebbles and shell, it was inspired by a similar chapel at Lourdes and is the third chapel built on the site, after the first two were demolished in 1914 and 1923 due to their even smaller sizes.

After 30 years of use, the asphalt roof finish had begun sagging, cracking and leaking, causing water ingress into the substrate.

the little chapel before old asphalt roof
the little chapel before old asphalt roof

Complexity of the project

Having never been finished, the chapel had been undergoing a long-term programme of restoration to create a structurally sound building that retains the beauty of the original vision. This meant first underpinning and securing the foundations for the first time in over 100 years.

The next priority was to fix the roof. The asphalt and underlying concrete was hollow and had to be completely removed, exposing the substrate of soil and clink. Repairs to the cracks in the ceiling therefore had to made from the inside.

The new roof comprises three layers of concrete, 340 stainless-steel plugs, a stainless-steel mesh and a final coating of concrete and the task of making the new concrete surface waterproof fell to local Polyroof-approved contractor Sarnian Roofing. Polyroof’s Protec System was chosen as the waterproofing solution because of its ability to be applied directly to the concrete in order to form a lightweight, seamless and durable waterproofing membrane.

the little chapel internal view showing the clinker and clay which has been repaired and strengthened
the little chapel internal view showing the clinker and clay which has been repaired and strengthened


The first stage was to make the entire roof area fully watertight. After sealing the porous concrete surface with a coating of primer, the first coat of Protec was applied, incorporating fibreglass reinforcement. After 30 minutes the coating had cured, and the second coat was applied to the whole roof area. A coating of Polyfinish was also applied to provide extra protection to areas where new mortar had been laid to re-embed the pebbles and seashells, which had been painstakingly removed from the old roof. The architect chose a sanded decorative finish to complement the building’s mosaic exterior and a third coat of Protec applied, with quartz sand was broadcast into the resin while it was still wet. After brushing off the excess sand, the whole roof surface was sealed with an application of Polyfinish Clear.


The aspiration of the client and architect was not just to install a weathertight roof but to create one that enhanced the overall aesthetics of this historic local landmark. This was achieved by sealing the quartz with Polyfinish Clear, which was key elevating the entire look of the building. The client thought this unexpected visual bonus provided by the product gave the mosaic exterior “a tiny bit of sparkle, just like another coat of varnish”.

Andy Gavey, director of Sarnian Roofing says

As a boy I would regularly visit The Little Chapel and I’ve always been blown away by its beauty and character. To get the chance to help restore the building to its full potential is a dream come true for me—this has to be my favourite roofing project yet. Polyroof’s contribution towards the roofing works has meant that we were able to provide a top-quality roofing solution that has done justice to the amazing exterior of the building.
the finish complemented the striking mosaics that adorn the walls of the chapel
the finish complemented the striking mosaics that adorn the walls of the chapel

At a glance

  • Client: Little Chapel Foundation
  • Architect: Stuart Pearce, CCD – Chartered Architects
  • Supplier: Polyroof
  • Contractor: Sarnian Roofing
  • Building Type: Religious
  • Roof Type: Asphalt
  • Product: Protec System, including Polyfinish Clear

About Polyroof

Since 1984, Polyroof have been manufacturing cold applied liquid roofing systems from our headquarters in Flintshire, North Wales, for the UK and international flat roofing markets. Delivering the highest quality products and services to our clients has been at the core of our values from the very start and remains the priority of all our operations.

About Sarnian Roofing

Sarnian Roofing Ltd has been proudly servicing Guernsey in the Channel Islands for 34 years. We specialize in all types of roofing from flat to pitched roofing. We also take great pride in not simply dealing with large roofing contracts but also helping our clients find the cause of unwelcome water ingression.

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