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Help and advice for Broadhembury - from Some Old Devon Churches (J. Stabb)

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Some Old Devon Churches

By J. Stabb

London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)

Page 37

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.

BROADHEMBURY. St. Andrew. The church [plate 37a] consists of chancel, nave, south aisle separated from nave by four arches, the pillars have carved capitals, south aisle chapel, north porch, and west tower with five bells; the tower is 100 feet high and is surmounted by a stunted spire The church dates from the end of the 14th, or beginning of the 15th, century. There is an old saying that the master built Broadhembury Church, and the man Broad Clyst, and that the master hung himself through mortification at being excelled in building by his man.

There are several monuments to the Drewe family in the church; they lived at a mansion called Grange in the parish. On the north wall of the chancel is a monument with the figure of a man kneeling at a desk, which is supported by an angel. He is arrayed in ruff, long robe over the shoulders, and full pantaloons; it is supposed to be in memory of Sir Thomas Drewe, but the inscription is indecipherable. There is an inscription in the chancel:- In memory of Thomas Rose, of Wootton Fitzpaine in the county of Dorset, Esq., who died the 9th of January 1747, aged 68, and was buried in the vault of this church. This was put up at the request of his only child Mary, wife of Francis Drewe Esq, of Grange in this parish, who departed this life the 7th November, 1749, aged 34, and was buried in this church.

On the south wall of the aisle chapel is a monument with the following inscription:-

To the memory of
Francis Drewe Esq who departed
this life the 24th of Decembr An. Dom
and in the 71 yeare of his age

"If floods of tears and universal love
Against the fates a Remora could prove
If virtue could the just and loyal save
From ye dishonour of ye darksome grave
Then hadst not thou most happy soul so soon
Left us in teares and to the angels gone
But walls of flesh we see can't long confine
Souls truly noble and like thine divine
Impatient of their earthly wall they still aspire
And what thou dost enjoy they most desire."

In the south aisle there are tombstones of the Drewe family, also one in memory of the Hill family of Priory, to whom there is a memorial tablet on the wall dated 1737. At the west end of the aisle there is a gallery with a stone front, and there is a wooden gallery at the west end of the nave. The tracery of the windows is very good, the window by the pulpit is said to be unique; on the mullions inside are richly carved figures of the angels, and outside, the mullions have figures said to represent the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. The Norman font [plate 37b] ranks amongst the finest half dozen in Devonshire, it is octagonal in shape, supported on square central and four corner pillars. The panels are carved with figures of saints and bishops, and there are shields for arms with the arms obliterated, if they were ever present.

Over the north door are preserved the Royal arms. The rood screen is gone and the staircase is walled up. On the south wall of the chancel is a white marble tablet with the following inscription:-

In Grateful Memory of
the Revd.
Augustus Montague Toplady, B.A.
Vicar of this parish from 1768 to 1778
and author of the immortal hymn:

"Rock of Ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure
Cleanse me from its guilt and power."

to whose personal piety, brilliant gifts
sanctified learning and uncompromising advocacy
of the gospel of the Sovereign Grace of God
his writings bear abundant testimony.

This Tablet
is erected A.D. 1898, being 120 years
after he entered into the joy of his Lord
on the 11th August 1778
in 38th year of his age.

In Grateful Memory of
the Revd.
Augustus Montague Toplady, B.A.
Vicar of this parish from 1768 to 1778
and author of the immortal hymn:

"For by Grace are ye saved through faith; and
that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not of works lest any man should boast."
Eph. ii. 8, 9.

The porch has a stone roof with fan tracery and old bosses. Over the entrance are three niches for statues, but these are missing. The inner doorway is well carved, and there is an image niche without the image, and the remains of a holy water stoup.

The parish registers are very complete, in unbroken succession from the year 1538, and are in a good state of preservation. There is a curious entry relating to a great frost which occurred in 1739, and lasted for nine weeks.

The first rector was Sir Martin de Litylbyri. He died in 1274.

The registers date: baptisms, 1540; marriages, 1538; burials, 1538.