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.
BUDLEIGH, EAST. All Saints. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and embattled western tower with clock and six bells, five cast in 1755 and one added in 1875. It was probably erected between 1420 and 1425 on the site of an earlier church, and is noted for its connection with the Ralegh family, its carved bench-ends and its rood screen [plate 44a]. The latter is of the same type as those in Bow, Braunton and Calverleigh, square-headed lights with pierced spandrels. At one time there was a rood loft supported by a beam fixed above the screen. This loft must have projected two to three feet from the chancel arch; the end of the beam was found in its original position some years since when the rood staircase was opened up. The cresting of the screen is comparitively modern, and in the lower panels the oak has been replaced with deal.
The entrance to the staircase is between the pier of the chancel and of the south aisle and the first half pier of the nave, the lower and upper doorways both face the nave. There is a curious hagioscope in the staircase, this could not have been for the use of the congregation unless the door was kept open. A second hagioscope is in the south aisle, separated from the rood staircase by the width of the half pier of the nave. The position of the staircase is rather unusual, a somewhat similar example is to be found at Lydford.
The carved bench-ends are unusually rich, they date from 1537. They are square-headed and about 3 feet high, and from 16 to 17 inches broad. There are about 63 remaining, and in no two cases is the carving alike. On one there is a man's head with the mouth open, showing the teeth with something between them, whether his tongue or a substance he is supposed to be swallowing it is difficult to say; another has a griffin in a sitting position, another a head with a long beard, another an angel bearing a shield with the arms of the St. Clere family, another a ship with three masts, riding on the sea; and yet another, at the eastern end of the central aisle on the northern side, bears the arms of the Ralegh family, with the date at the bottom [plate 44b]. It is rather remarkable that there should be no religious symbol carved on any of the pews.
At the east end of the central aisle is the gravestone of the second wife of Sir Walter Ralegh's father. The inscription, through age, is difficult to read. Dr. Oliver gives it as follows:-
Orate pro aia
Johanne Raleyh uxoris Walti
Obiit X Die Mens Augusti Anno Dni M C C . . . .
The first vicar mentioned is Stephen de Budleigh, admitted July 11th 1261, on the presentation of the Prioress and Convent of Polsloe.
The registers date: baptisms, 1555; marriages, 1556; burials, 1562.