Some Old Devon Churches
By J. Stabb
London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)
Transcribed and edited by Dr Roger Peters
Full text available at
Between 1908 and 1916, John Stabb, an ecclesiologist and photographer who lived in Torquay, published three volumes of Some Old Devon Churches and one of Devon Church Antiquities. A projected second volume of the latter, regarded by Stabb himself as a complement to the former, did not materialize because of his untimely death on August 2nd 1917, aged 52. Collectively, Stabb's four volumes present descriptions of 261 Devon churches and their antiquities.
BRAMFORD SPEKE. St. Peter. The church consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, south transept, south porch, and west tower. The church has been restored, and there is little of interest to be found there. In the south transept, beneath the south window, is an arch of red sandstone, the canopy has carved human faces, and there is a small window with crown in painted glass. On the arch of the window are the words "Esto fidelis usqua ad mortem et Dabo tibi Counam Vit¾." It is probably the resting place of John Speke, whose will, proved February 12th 1448, left bequests to this church and also to the poor of this parish and Wembworthy. On the east wall of the transept is a marble tablet in memory of the Rev. George Cornelius Gorham, D.D., who was vicar of this parish for seven years, during which period the church was rebuilt and beautified; he died on June 19th 1857, aged 66 years. On the west wall is a marble tablet in memory of Joseph Sheppard, who died June 21st 1865.
Though uninteresting from an ancient point of view, the church has a certain amount of interest to church people, in so far as its association with the Rev. G. C. Gorham is concerned. In 1847 he was appointed by the Patron to the living, but on account of his denial of the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration the Bishop of Exeter refused to institute him. The Court of the Dean of Arches, to which the case was taken, decided in 1849 that the Bishop was justified in his action; the decision was appealed against, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council reversed the judgment of the Ecclesiastical Court, and Mr. Gorham was instituted. This decision caused a great deal of controversy at the time and resulted in a large number of clergymen leaving the Church of England for the Church of Rome.
The registers date from 1739.