Black Torrington


Some Old Devon Churches

By J. Stabb

London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)

Page 22

Transcribed and edited by Dr Roger Peters

Full text available at


Prepared by Michael Steer

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.

BLACK TORRINGTON. St. Mary. The church [plate 22] consists of chancel, nave, north chapel and south aisle divided from the nave by four arches and from the chancel by one arch. The arches, wide and lofty, resting on granite pillars, give a light appearance to the nave. There is a piscina with drain on the south side of the chancel. The reredos and altar are of carved oak. On the south side of the chancel is a slate slab with coat of arms and the inscription:-

In Memory of Benoni Bampfylde
of Ley in this Parish Gent: Who
was here underneath Buried July
the 14th day Ano Dom 1721.

"Think not his pious Parts have here an end
No; they to Heaven with his pure soule ascend
His undissembl'd Love, Discourse and Truth
For Age a Pattern and a Rule for Youth
Unto the Living Charity doth Preach
And Christian livinge to ye dying teach."

Beneath is a death's head with foliage and flowers growing out of the eye sockets.

The chancel was rebuilt and enlarged in 1902 in memory of Arthur Stoker Gardener, M.A., died April 21st 1886, and Margaret his wife, died April 3rd 1871, and of Charles Wood of Bath, died March 3rd 1884, and Eliza his wife, died November 23rd 1895, by their children; J. Gardiner, M.A., rector of the parish, and Clara Jane his wife.

On the north wall of the chancel is a tablet in memory of the Rev. John Burgess, rector of this parish, who died September 20th 1780. The modern pulpit of carved oak bears the date M.C.M.VII. The old sounding board has been repaired and hangs over the pulpit. In the north chapel is a modern restoration of what was very probably a piscina. In the south aisle chapel (now used as a vestry) there is a priest's door, and on the wall two slate memorial tablets with the following inscriptions:-

In Memory of Jane
The wife of John
Wollacott of this Parsh
Who died March ye
22 and was Buried
ye 24 Anno Dom

"Death took me from my
Husbands breast and laid
Me here in bed of dust
till Christ himself shall
Bid me live and dwell
With him in paradise."


Sacred to the Memory of
Anthony Cornish of Totleigh
In this parish Gentleman
Who departed this life
The 29th day of March 1799,
and his wife Sarah who died 8 July
1799, and Ann Wivell sister of
the aforesaid Anthony and widow of Nathaniel
Wivell late of the parish of Hatherleigh
She died March 1st 1801.

There are some encaustic tiles around the font, the latter is not of much interest.

The roof of the nave was restored as before, the aisle roof recovered, two piers of the south wall rebuilt and the buttresses added, the floor laid, the church reseated, a new south door provided, and provision made for warming the building in 1902-03. The south aisle roof is very fine with carved ribs, bosses, and north wall plate, a portion of the wall plate remains on the south side at the east end of the aisle. On the north wall of the nave are two slate tablets in memory of the Coham family, of Upcott, one dated 1722, 1725, 1768, the other with dates 1757 and 1785.

The south-west window in the aisle and west window are in memory of the Rev. John Pamleaze, for 40 years rector of this parish; he died June 24th 1879, aged 71 years.

The registers date: baptisms, 1547; marriages, 1547; burials, 1548.