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.
BRIDFORD. St. Thomas of Canterbury. The church consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, and embattled western tower containing six bells.
The church is Perpendicular in style, and was dedicated by Bishop Bronescombe early in November 1259. The tower is 57 feet high including the pinnacles.
The rood screen [plate 33a] is remarkably fine, and retains its ancient colouring. The groining and cresting are missing, and the front is ornamented with remains of the rood loft carving. The main shafts to the mullions, the arcades, the divisions of the panels, and the panels themselves, are all most richly carved. The lower panels, instead of being painted with figures of saints, have little carved and painted statuettes of what appear by their dress to be cardinals [plate 33b]. These panels are very similar in style to those on the screen at Lustleigh, but there the figures are not painted. The screen was probably erected in the early part of the reign of Henry VIII [1509-1547], when Walter Southcote was vicar, his initials W.S. have been traced; also the double rose and the pomegranate, the devices of the then reigning sovereign, and his consort, Katherine of Arragon [1485-1536; divorced 1533], can be seen on the screen (see Oliver's Ecclesiastical Antiquities, Vol. 2, p. 132). The doors are curious, instead of being divided in the middle, as is usually the case, they are made in one piece. The pulpit [plate 33c] is richly carved with figures on the panels in harmony with the screen.
The first rector on record is Robert de Wardolby, 1311.
The registers date: baptisms, 1538; marriages, 1589; burials, 1538.