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.
ROCKBEARE. St. Mary. The church consists of chancel with piscina and priest's door, north aisle separated from nave by four arches supported on pillars with carved capitals, south porch, and west tower with five bells. The old west gallery has been removed and portions are preserved in a screen behind the organ, forming an enclosure for the vestry. There is a well carved front, one of the panels having the initials "H.P." on a shield, over which is a head, between apparently two birds. In the aisle are several tablets in memory of members of the Porter family, of Rockbeare House, and of the Bidgood family, of Rockbeare Court. There are some old tombstones bearing dates of 1689 and 1730. In the nave are two old tombstones, one in memory of Henry Baron, of this parish, yeoman, who departed this life August 21st 1665, and another on which the date is obliterated. At the west end of the church is a list of charities left to the poor of the parish by Charles Bidgood, James Stile, Lawrence Colesworthy, and Radford Wild. The clock was erected in memory of Captain Edward Alverne Bolitho, R.N., who died at Rockbeare House, September 25th 1908. At the west end of the aisle is a tombstone with the inscription partly obliterated, but apparently in memory of Elizabeth Morrish, who died December 17th 16--. It has the following epitaph:-
"A virgin pure lies buried here
To her friends she was most dear
God took her off in midst of days
Being virtuous in all her ways
That she may live in rest and peace
---- you will never cease."
There is no sign of a rood screen, but Polwhele says, that in his time [ca. 1800], "The screen separates the chancel from the nave, under a curious old rood loft, richly adorned with carvings of foliage and fret work. The rood loft is almost entire." It is said that the upper of the screen was removed to Rockbeare Court some years ago.
The font is octagonal, on a modern base. In the churchyard is the grave of a man who evidently did not contemplate his wife marrying a second time; the epitaph is as follows:-
"Prepare thee partner of my joys and woes
To follow and partake of my repose
As thou hast shared my gladness and my gloom
So must thou share with me the silent tomb."
The lychgate was erected in 1890.
The registers date from 1645.