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.
BURLESCOMBE. St. Mary. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north porch, and west tower. There is a piscina in the chancel and another in the north aisle. On the north side of the chancel under an arch is an old altar tomb, the front ornamented with a series of richly canopied niches containing figures of ecclesiastics holding shields, on which are emblazoned alternately a fleur-de-lis and a cross. The tomb commemorates Nicholas Ayshford and his two wives, Isabella and Margaret. In the north aisle at the east end is another monument to the same family. It represents a male and a female kneeling before a prie-dieu; the man is arrayed in ruff and long cloak, and the woman in ruff, tight bodice, and full skirt; there is the following inscription:- In mortem et memoriam Rogeri Ayshford armigeri epitaphium, qui obiit quinto die Januarii Anno Domini 1610. Anno ætatis suæ 76.
"You that pass by this tomb stand still awhile
And with your tongues and tears the tyme beguile
To see soe good a man betrayed to dust
And no cause why save that he was right just.
The Church and Churchmen was his chief delight
To other things hee scarce had appetite
Or if he has twas like himself twas rare
So zealous all his recreations were
He wish't and wanted tyme, which was withstoode
Not to lyve long, but to doe more good
Wherein though death hath crost, het he'll have
His virtuous life survyve his marble grave."
On the wall of the north aisle is a third monument of the Ayshford family with this inscription:- To the memory of Elizabeth Ayshforde, wife of Arthur Ayshforde, eldest sonne of Henry Ayshforde, Esq., only daughter to the Right Honb. Lord Charles Wilmot, Viscount of Athlone, late General of His Majesty's forces in the Kingdom of Ireland, now a Privy Councellor both of England and Ireland. She dyed the 23rd year of her age, Anno Dni. 1635, June 13th.
The nave is separated from the aisles by three arches on each side supported on clustered pillars. The capitals on the north side have shields with coats of arms.
There is a rood screen [plate 46] of five bays across the chancel. It is of the Budleigh type, the lights being square-headed, the loft and coving and the original cornice work are gone, but there is a modern cornice and cresting, the doors are missing. The screen is said to have originally stood across the two piers outside the present chancel.
On the south side of the entrance gate in the churchyard is a curious Memento mori consisting of a death's head and cross-bones over a body wrapped in a shroud.
The registers date: baptisms, 1579; marriages, 1580; burials, 1579.