Ilfracombe Lifeboatman character jug produced by Devonia Pottery of Exeter, England, circa 1950. A lifeboatman was a sailor who was trained and qualified to take charge of a lifeboat or life raft in case of emergency, saving the lives of the boat's passengers and crew. Ilfracombe is a seaside resort and civil parish on the North Devon coast of England with a small harbor surrounded by cliffs. St. Nicholas Chapel, perched on Lantern Hill overlooking Ilfracombe Harbor, is the oldest working lighthouse in the country. This chapel was first built in the 14th century and was named St. Nicholas after the patron saint of sailors. It served as a place of worship for the seafarers of Ilfracombe living and working around the harbor. From around the 15th century the chapel maintained a beacon to guide shipping into the harbor. The lifeboatman's left arm forms the handle of the jug as he searches the horizon for any vessels on the water.