Some Old Devon Churches
By J. Stabb
London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)
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.
BRAUNTON. St. Brannock. The church is a large building in the Early English and Perpendicular styles, and consists of chancel, nave, transept, north and south porches, and tower on the south side with spire containing eight bells. The nave has a panelled oak roof, on one of the bosses is carved a representation of a sow with a litter of pigs, alluding to the tradition that St. Brannock, about the year A.D. 300, dreamt that he was to erect a church on the spot where he first met with a sow and her litter.
The rood screen [plate 32a] is of interest, being of unusual design. It is of the square-headed type, and was never meant to have groining; it probably supported a flat coving for a rood loft westward, as was probably the case at Bow and elsewhere.
There is a finely carved Jacobean pulpit [plate 32b] and reading desk, the latter dated 1636.
Near the south door is a good Norman font [plate 32c]; the bowl is square, supported on four pillars and a central shaft. There are faces carved on the corners of the bowl, on the east side are arches and the Agnus Dei, and on the north side a man's head. For some reason or other the south door seems the most generally used for entrance into the church, and it is therefore more usual to find the font near the south door, but as baptism is the sacrament by which we enter into the Church, the font would be placed near the doorway most generally used, which in this case is, I suppose, the one in the north porch. At one time the majority of churches, where the position rendered it possible, had both north and south entrances, and the font was then often placed in the nave at equal distances from both.
The bench-ends have been much mutilated, but there is one with a carving of St. Brannock in a fair state of preservation [plate 32d]. He is the patron saint of the church, and is represented with a chalice in his hand, and a bullock beneath his feet. The latter probably refers to the story of St. Brannock restoring to life the animal belonging to some poor man, which had been killed by robbers and boiled in a pot.
There is an interesting brass with an effigy of a knight on one side, and an effigy of a lady kneeling at a prie-dieu on the other; at the foot is an inscription to Lady Elizabeth Dowcer, daughter of John, 1st Earl of Bath, and wife of Eden Chichester, died August 24th 1548.
The registers date from 1538.