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.
ABBOTS BICKINGTON. St. James. The church [plate 1a] consists of chancel, nave, south transept, north porch, and west tower with spire containing three bells, two old, one modern. In the north corner of the chancel is the Pollard monument [plate 1b] with the following inscription:-
Here Under Lyes ye Body of
Tho: Pollard ye son of Sr.
Ames Pollard Bart who departed this
life Decem ye 9th 1710 ye 29th year of his age
he had to wife Sarah ye daughter of
Jonathan Prideaux of Thir: Esq.
who by the order of her dec-
eased husband has set up this
Monument in remembrance of
him & doth desire to be laid here
her selfe when it doth please God
to take her hence.
The east window [plate 1c] contains some very good old stained glass representing St. Anthony and St. Christopher in the left light, and in the right light are a large number of fragments patched together; one represents our Lord, another part of a figure of the Blessed Virgin with the Divine Child in her arms; there are several smaller portions more difficult of identification.
There are some old tiles in the chancel.
In front of the altar is buried Ames Pollard, died June 5th 1701, the father of the Pollard commemorated in the monument on the wall. The stone has the following inscription:-
"If birth and parentage be an ornament
His may be ranked with those of the best descent
If constant, steadfast loyalty be praise
His was unshaken in the worst of days
Who durst the King and royal cause still own
In times when doing it was so dangerous known
If love to friends, to neighbours and to peace
When constituted justice may increase
And raising his character, all this lets us see
How much we lost in being deprived of thee."
The Pollards were descended from the Pollards of Kings Nympton; Sir Lewis Pollard, one of the judges of the Common Pleas, was born in 1465. An account of the family is given in Prince's Worthies of Devon. He tells rather an amusing story about the wife of Sir Lewis, it is as follows:- "That his lady, glassing this window in her husband's absence at the Term in London, caused one child more than she then had to be set up there; presuming, having had one-and-twenty already, and usually conceiving at her husband's return home, that she should have another. Which, inserted in expectation, came to pass in reality."
In the churchyard is an old tombstone dated 1717 in memory of a male and female, with the following inscriptions:-
"I once did live but now am dead
And on my flesh the worms are fed
Tho you do live yet you must die
And feed the worms as well as I."
"Reader beneath this humble stone
Lie all the frail remains
Of her who lov'd the realms above
Beyond all earthy gains.
Kind just and faithful lov'd by all
A Mother Wife and friend
She prov'd what we should bear in mind
That Death's our certain end.
Kind just and faithful live like her
You'll be beloved by all
And Heaven like her's will be your lot
What e're on earth befall.
She like the Primrose of our banks
Where Torridge waters glide
Felt the chill air or midnight blasts
Then droop'd her head and died."
The registers date from 1717.