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.
COLYTON. St. Andrew. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, and central octagonal tower. The east end of each aisle is screened off, forming a chapel. There is a priest's door in the chancel, and piscinas in the chancel, and north and south chapels. The south porch at one time had a parvise, but when there was a gallery in the south aisle an exterior staircase was made to give access to the parvise, and from thence to the gallery. This gallery has now been removed, and the parvise is used as a small gallery looking into the south aisle. The tower is reached through an exterior doorway to the south by means of a staircase and wooden gallery crossing the interior of the south aisle, and not adding to its beauty. The west window is fine, reaching almost to the ground, the doorway forming part of the window; the doorway is old, but the tracery of the window has been replaced with new, the part taken out being preserved in the east end of the churchyard.
The reredos, pulpit, and font are modern.
There are two stone screens in the church, those enclosing the chapels at the ends of the aisles. That enclosing the south, or Pole Chapel, is the best of the two, and is a very fine specimen of carved stone work; it consists of five bays, the upper parts filled with tracery. It was erected by Thomas Brerewood, vicar from 1524 to 1544. On the doorway are shields, one bearing a rebus of Brerewood - a briar tree [Erica arborea] - and the initials "T.B."; the other has a girdle and the initials "F.R". [plate 67a]. The screen on the north side [plate 67b] encloses the Yonge Chapel; it is a stone screen of Jacobean character and of good design. On the east wall of the Pole Chapel is the monument of Mary, wife of Sir William Pole of Shute, Knt., eldest daughter of Sir W. Periam of Fulford, Knt. She had four sons and five daughters (sculptured on the monument), and died May 2nd 1605, aged 38 years and 1 month. She was married to her husband 22 years and 10 months. In the same chapel is the elaborate monument of Sir John and Lady Elizabeth Pole. He was the first Baronet, and died on April 16th, and was buried at Colyton on July 13th 1658.
The most interesting monument in the church is on the north side of the chancel [plate 67c], removed here from its position in the north transept in 1818. It represents a female figure, beneath an elaborate canopy, with shields bearing the Royal and Courtenay arms. An inscription at the back of the tomb states that it is the monument of Margaret, daughter of William Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and the Princess Katherine [1479-1527], youngest daughter of Edward IV [r. 1461-1470 & 1471-1483], and that she was choked by a fishbone in 1512. This, however, is said to be a mistake, and that the figure represents Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Devonshire, daughter of John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, eldest son of John of Gaunt [1340-1399], by his wife Margaret, daughter of Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent, half brother of Richard II [r. 1377-1399] and Alice Fitzhalan.
The first vicar recorded is Robert de la Hille, admitted 1237.
The registers date from 1538, and there are some interesting entries. The plague is referred to as commencing in November 1645, and ending in November 1646. There is also a license signed by John Wilkins, vicar, dated 1660, giving permission to Sir John Yonge, to eat flesh on account of his indisposition.