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.
CHITTLEHAMPTON. St. Hieritha. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, south porch, and west tower with eight bells. The tower [plate 54a] is the finest in the county; there is a saying about three of the Devonshire towers, viz:- "North Molton for strength,
South Molton for length,
Chittlehampton for beauty."
The church is dedicated to St. Hieritha and on the last pier on the north side of the chancel is a niche with pedestal and canopy, which is supposed to have formerly held a statue of the saint, there is the following modern inscription:- "The Souls of the Righteous are in the hands of God
J. H. S.
The bodies of the merciful are buried in peace
but their name liveth for evermore."
In memory of St. Hieritha Foundress
of this Church.
The carved ceilings of the transepts or, as they are generally called, the Rolle and Giffard aisles, are very good, the roofs of the aisles are old, that of the nave more modern. The stone pulpit [plate 54b] is a good piece of work, having panels with carved figures; it is very similar in style to that at Witheridge. The rood screen is gone, but the staircase remains with lower and upper doors in the south aisle. The reredos is of stone with mosaic of the Last Supper, and there are also stone sedilia and credence table.
The capitals of the pillars on the south side of the nave are carved with leaves and fruit, those on the north side are plain. There is a good font [plate 54c] beneath the tower very similar to that at Witheridge; here also will be found the ancient parish chest with three locks.
The south porch has an oak roof and a massive oak door with sanctuary knocker. On the floor in front of the pulpit is an old brass with one male and two female figures, and a smaller female figure. These represent John Cobleigh and his two wives, Isabella and Johanna, and his daughter. He is arrayed in plain long gown or tunic, his hair is straight and he wears pointed shoes. His wives and daughter in plain long gowns with butterfly head-dresses; the figure on his right has close sleeves and mittens, that on his left fur cuffs and collar. Behind the organ is the monument of John Gifford with his recumbent effigy in armour; two kneeling figures and two medallions, representing his sons and grandchildren. There is a long Latin inscription in praise of the deceased and recording the marriages of members of his family with members of the Cobleigh, Wyndham, Leigh, and Greenfield families. In the same transept is the monument of Miss Grace Gifford:-- who died at Sherbourne the 3rd and was hiere buried (as she desired) by her father and mother, the 11th day of November, 1667, anno ætatis 27.
"The Graces formerly were counted three
Now to the count of a fourth may added be
This virgin that of Graces had such store
As shee made good her name of Grace and more
Her loving parents were to her soe deare
They goinge hence shee'd stay no longer here
But after Hyes (Blest Soule) to Heaven above
To bee with them i' the familye of Love
And by ther bodies Hers must Ly to rest
That with them shee may rise together blest."
In the south transept is the monument of Lawrence Rolle, his wife, and son; 1734, 1735, 1746.
Over the door in the north aisle of the chancel is the memorial of:- John Bear, late pastor of the church, who
died February 5th, 1656.
The old churchyard cross has recently been restored as a memorial of Archdeacon Seymour, who at one time was vicar [1890-1906].
The list of vicars prior to 1240 is not recorded, up to that year they had been appointed by the Abbey of Tewkesbury [Gloucestershire), to which the endowment belonged. In March 1240, the rectory and the vicarage were united and one incumbent held both, viz., Master William de Stanewaye, since this date the list of vicars is complete, but now they are vicars only.
The registers date from 1575.