DEVON, UK

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It’s a lighthouse that is meant to guide ships through dark and stormy nights.

But when a bolt of lightning struck a former ancient chapel and damaged its electrics and shattered its windows, vessels had to turn to the spectacular storm for light.

Lightning struck the ancient Grade I listed St Nicholas Chapel on Friday night, smashing three of the dome’s glass panels and damaging the electrics.

St Nicholas Chapel, built on Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe, Devon, in the 14th Century, has been used as a lighthouse for hundreds of years.

Its navigation light has since been replaced and the chapel reopened.

The moment the lightning strike hit the chapel was caught on camera by Ilfracombe resident Jason Twist.

‘The storm was very impressive, so I grabbed my camera and started snapping about 500 photos,’ he said.

‘My house overlooks the harbour so I was in the right place at the right time.’

Owned by North Devon District Council, the chapel is run by the Rotary Club of Ilfracombe and the automated navigation light is looked after by the town’s harbour master. ‘It was quite a night - the storm was spectacular - but the damage could have been so much worse,’ rotarian Ann Doody said.

‘The light was fixed by an electrician on Saturday and although we still have to replace some the sockets, we’ve been able to reopen to the public.’ Ilfracombe Rotary club’s president Nigel Vince said the lightning could have caused a devastating blaze.

He told This Is Devon: ‘We were extremely fortunate that the building did not catch fire and cause major damage and are heartened by the quick responses of the fire brigade and the harbour master’.

St Nicholas’ Chapel is believed to be Ilfracombe’s oldest building, and was first used as a lighthouse in 1522. The ancient building was restored in the sixties by Rotarians.