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.
COLEBROOK. St. Andrew. The church consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, Lady Chapel on the south side of the nave, south porch, with remains of holy water stoup, and west tower containing six bells. There is the lid of a Saxon stone coffin in the path outside the priest's door, and there are some Saxon arches built up in the south wall of the church; two Saxon heads were also found in one of the Norman pillars of the Lady Chapel when the arch was restored. The east window, dating from about 1300, was erected probably in commemoration of Archdeacon Sawbridge, Canon of Exeter, and afterwards Bishop of Winchester. Outside the window are two angels supporting shields bearing the arms of Exeter and Winchester. The Lady Chapel, dating from about 1300, was built and endowed by Sir Walter de Bathe; he is buried beneath the south window of this chapel. There are two hagioscopes in the church, one to secure a view of the altar in the Lady Chapel from the nave, and the other that the high altar may be seen from the Lady Chapel. The rood screen has been removed (a faculty was obtained for its removal, August 17th 1805), but the old opening in the chancel arch for access to the rood loft remains. There is an extremely fine parclose screen [plate 65a] resembling in style those at Brushford and Coleridge, the screen [plate 65b] separating the Copleston Chantry from the north aisle is of the same design. The church, when originally built, consisted only of nave and chancel; the north aisle and chantry were added by Philip Copleston, who was Sheriff of Devon in 1471. The chantry contains a fireplace, and in the south wall the remains of a "leper's window". On the north side of the chancel will be found an elaborately carved prieu-dieu [plate 65c]; on the ends are figures bearing the arms of the Copleston and Gorges families. There is a 15th century font [plate 65d] with a cover, which is probably considerably older; it is surmounted by a winged figure with two faces, the wings were added when then figure was restored by Mr. Harry Hems. I should say that it is rather doubtful if the figure in its original state had wings; there is an amice round the neck, a short surplice, and cassock, but no chasuble or stole, and I should think it is intended to represent a lay server, if so it must be of early date, as the amice was first recognised as one of the Eucharistic vestments in 900. In the register is the entry, "Ellen Hook buried, August 3rd, but not in woolen as the act was unknown to us." If they did not know of the act why should the fact that she was not buried in "woolen" be mentioned? If they had heard of the act news must have taken a long time to travel, as the act was passed twelve years previously [cf. "Woolen Acts" of 1666 and 1678].
The date of the first vicar, Paganus, is 1161.
The registers date from 1558.