Clyst St Lawrence
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.
CLYST ST. LAWRENCE. St. Lawrence. The church consists of chancel, nave, south porch, and west tower. There is a screen of five bays across the chancel [plate 61], retaining its ancient colouring and gilding, but the tracery has all been removed from the bays and the ancient cresting has been replaced by a plain wooden one; at one time it must have been an exceedingly fine screen.
There is a gallery in the tower arch, and on each side of the arch are carved grotesque heads. The arms of Charles II [r. 1660-1685] are preserved beneath the gallery.
In the chancel is buried the Rev. Charles E. Walkley, who was rector of the parish for the long period of 61 years; he died September 4th 1865, at the age of 85 years. There are some carved bosses in the roof, but they have been whitewashed over, as has also the font, which is of plain design.
Over the chancel arch is hung an interesting painting. It represents a triangle cut off at the three corners by three circles, symbolising the three Divine Persons, with an inscription showing the difference and the equality of the three hypostaces, the difference is on the side of the triangle, and the equality converges towards the centre, meeting in another circle. This triangle is sometimes depicted as supported by a figure with three faces, but in this instance there is no figure; with the figure, it is said by Hone (Ancient Mysteries Described, p. 86) to have been the arms of Trinity Priory, Ipswich [Suffolk]; and in Didron's Christian Iconography, in a footnote, it is stated that this design was commonly seen after the commencement of the 15th century. It may be found sculptured on a house in Bordeaux, said to have been inhabited by Montaigne [1533-1592], and in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex it is constantly to be met with. The note also says:- "We are assured that they occur in the eastern part of England alone and have never been seen in the north or the west." If this statement is correct, and this is the only place in Devonshire in which I have seen this design, the representation in this church is of great interest.
The old cross remains in the church, but the top is rather worn. In the north-east corner of the tower there is a statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child, and the building has some very grotesque gargoyles.
The registers date: baptisms, 1539; marriages, 1540; burials, 1541.