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Description: Church of St Mary
Date Listed: 9 February 1961
English Heritage Building ID: 101147
OS Grid Reference: SX7273656768
OS Grid Coordinates: 272736, 56768
Latitude/Longitude: 50.3970, -3.7919
Explore more of the area around Diptford, Devon at Explore Britain.
4/234 Church of St Mary
Parish Church. Probably some C13 fabric with much rebuilding in the early
C14 the aisles are possibly C15 vestry of circa 1840, restored in 1870 and
1908. Local slate rubble. C19 granite window except for the C19 east
window which is limestone. Rendered west tower with concrete clad spire.
Welsh slate roofs with gabled ends.
Plan: Nave and chancel in one; narrow north and south 4-bay arcades each
only one bay from the east end. West tower with stair turret in the east
angle on the south side. Porch at the west end of the south side of the
south aisle. Vestry on the south side of the west tower in the angle with
the north aisle. organ chamber on the north side of the chancel in the
angle with the north aisle.
Development: The first rector was in 1226. In 1336 Bishop Grandisson
dedicated the high altar which suggest the chancel had been rebuilt but the
chancel may well have C13 fabric judging by the south window. therefore in
the early C14 there must have been considerable rebuilding of the early C13
church. The early C13 church would have comprised a nave and chancel and
possibly a west tower as well. the present west tower may be of C13 origin
or early C14 with an integral spire, for the broach spire is certainly C14
but owing to the rendered internal masonry it is difficult to see whether
it is coeval with the tower itself. There is also a problem in dating the
aisles because although they are thought to be C15 the arcades with their
octagonal piers and 2-centred arches seem to be earlier and perhaps part of
the early C14 rebuilding - see also the later perhaps late C15 carving on
some of the capitals and the buttresses on the north and south sides of the
aisles. Furthermore the capitals of the piers between the nave and chancel
have been cut away possibly in the C15 to accommodate the rood loft. A
church with 2 aisles would have been unusually large for this part of Devon
in the C14 which raises considerable doubt about a date earlier than the
C15 for the aisles. the date of the south porch is also uncertain for
although it looks early it must have been built after the aisles. If the
aisles were not c15 additions they seem to have been reroofed together with
the nave and chancel in the C16. In 1848 the Exeter Diocesan Architectural
Society describes it as "an interesting Decorated church in a state of
dilapidation chancel is destroyed and an unsightly vestry on the north
west". So the vestry 'north of the west tower' was probably added in circa
1840. The church was restored in 1870 but the seating inside appears to be
mid C19. There was another restoration in 1908 when the north aisle was
supposed to have been reroofed (Kellys Directory) but actually only
repaired. However 1908 is probably when the organ chamber was added to the
north of the chancel.
exterior: The south aisle has 3 south windows and 1 east window; they are
late C19 granite 3-light windows with 2-centred arched with Decorated style
tracery; 3 very large buttresses between the windows with slate weathered
set-offs and hollow-chamfered plinth mouldings. The west end window on the
south aisle has a moulded Beerstone 2-central arch and jambs, blocked in
the C19 and a lancet inserted. The south doorway has a single chamfered
slate jambs and a Beerstone depressed centred arch with a relieving arch;
the C19 flush panel round-headed door has wrought iron false hinges and
studs. The north porch has a narrow doorway with a 2-centred almost round,
arch with dressed slate voussoirs and inputs and chamfered slate wall
The north aisle has 4 windows similar to those in the south aisle (but
without any east and west end windows). there are 2 large buttresses at
the east end of the north side of the aisle with plinths and slate
weathered set-offs (the right hand (west) of the two is wider) between and
immediately to the right of the buttresses there is a plinth; the rest of
the north aisle is of a different character and most of the slate wall
plate is missing which suggests that the wall may have been partly rebuilt
and the rood stair turret demolished.
The chancel has a large late C19 Perpendicular style east window of 3
lights; the gable above has been rebuilt. there is a C19 lancet in the
large C13 blocked window on the south side with a priests doorway to the
left (west) with a C19 volcanic stone 4-centred arch head and similarly
arched C19 flush panel door.
The west tower is rendered and has a pronounced batter and diagonal
buttress on the west corners with slate weathered set-offs; the buttresses
reach to only just above half the height of the tower, as does the
rectangular stair turret to the east of the south side; the turret has a
lean-to cemented slate roof and very small square and slit windows. the
tower itself has a lancet on each side of the belfry land a smaller lancet
on the north and south of the ringing stage below; it has a C15
perpendicular 4-centred arch west window (the mullions renewed) with a
hoodmould and a simple chamfered granite 2-centred arch cuvet doorway with
corner stops land C19 flush panel double doors; there is a square label set
high above the doorway. The circa early C14 broach spire is clad in
concrete accentuating the lunettes; weathervane at the apex with ball and
pennant; a wrought iron clock face on the south side of the spire.
Interior: the interior walls of the church are plastered and whitewashed;
there may be some old plaster with the possibility of murals; a small piece
of circa early C19 painted text on the north wall of the north aisle. 4-
bay north and south aisles with double-chamfered 2-centred arches,
octagonal granite monolithic piers, moulded Beerstone capitals; one respond
capital and two pier capitals in the south arcade have what looks like C15
foliage carving and another pier prepared for carving.
The tall tower arch is unmoulded and has chamfered imports. Exposed
chamfered rear arches to the wet end window of the north aisle and the west
window on the north side of the north aisle. The C13 south window of the
chancel also has a chamfered rear arch and nook shafts with moulded
capitals bases and shaft rings; the shafts are polished marble
replacements. At the west end of the nave a chamfered 2-centred arch
doorway into the tower stair turret which has a stone newel stair and
similar doorway at the top. The north and south aisles, nave and chancel
all have ceiled wagon roofs with moulded ribs and wall-plates and bosses at
the intersections; as they are ceiled the roof structure can not be seen
but the moulded ribs and some of the wall-plates in both the aisles appear
to be C16; the nave also has some old ribs but many seem to have been
replaced. The north aisle is said to have been reroofed in 1908. There
may well be early fabric in all the roof structures. The roof has a
planter vaulted ceiling concealing its roof structure entirely.
The north wall of the chancel has been demolished, probably in 1908 for the
Furnishinqs; The carved rood screen is the work of Herbert Read, it has A-
type (Pevsner) tracery with a canopy over the centre; there are small
fragments of the old screen worked into the rebuilt parclose screens.
Cresswell mentions a rood stair on the north side which is now blocked.
the glazed classical style tower screen; C20 and was brought from newton
House, Newton St Cyres in about 1981.
The nave and aisles and choir are entirely fitted out with panelled box
pews which appear mid C19 or possibly 1820; the polygonal wooden pulpit is
probably contemporary. The organ by Henry Bryceson of London may also be
of this date. In the tower a clock of 1886 by Gillett and Co of Croydon.
The carved wooden reredos altar rail and eagle lectern are C20. There is a
restored late C17 altar table in the chapel at the east end of the south
aisle with barley-sugar legs moulded stretcher land a drawer; a new top has
been placed over the old top.
The-octagonal granite front has lancet-shaped panels on the sides of the
bowl and Cresswell says it is "modern". The choir has C19 patterned tiles.
The nave and aisles have slate floors; a local marble ledger stone in the
north aisle to Richard Hele of Sterte died 1614 and other members of the
Hele family; a marble ledger stone to Charles Taylor died 1770 in the
chancel is probably reset.
Monuments: The best is a wall monument to Ann Taylor of Maridge died 1763
aged 16; it is a fashionable classical design in carved white and coloured
marbles with a broken pediment above containing an urn and a coat of arms
below. Opposite on the north wall of the chancel a monument to W. Hare of
Courtisknowle (Curtisknowle) died 1820. A small brass on the east wall of
the north aisle to Honor and Willikelme Vowell, dated 1595. At the west
end of the nave an oval wall monument with an urn to Matilda, wife of
Reverend Henry hare of Courtisknowle, died 1823; and a wall monument to
Robert Dawson, died 1876, with a laurel wreath tablet superimposed over
Stained Glass: all the glass is clear except for the circa mid C19 glass
in the east window south chancel window and the west window of the south
aisle. The easternmost north window of the north aisle is dated 1919. The
west window in the tower seems to have some medieval glass in the tracery;
the rest of the glass is mid C19 in this window.
The 6 bells were recast in 1822.
Sources: B F Cresswell, notes on Devon Churches, Deanery of Totnes.
Listing NGR: SX7273856770
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.