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.
CREDITON. St. Mary and the Holy Cross. The church [plate 73a] is a cruciform building consisting of choir, with aisles, Lady Chapel at the east end, nave with clerestory, north and south aisles, transepts, central tower with eight bells, and south porch with parvise, now used as a library. To the east of the south transept is a porch and vestry with rooms over, one of which known as the Governors' Room.
On the south side of the choir are the sedilia [plate 73b], they are in three divisions of equal height with groined canopies and ribbed and rounded backs. The seats are divided by shafts with long pointed openings. On the east and west there was formerly tabernacle work enriched with figures; of these only one remains, that of a priest clad in eucharistic vestments. The sedilia are built of Beer stone, and retain much of their ancient colouring, but they have been shockingly mutilated.
At the back of the sedilia [plate 73c], evidently part of the original structure, is a recess for a tomb. The base has a rich arcading with crockets; the recess above the tomb has a canopy richly carved and crocketed, at the top is a fine cornice with small groups of figures, in the centre is our Lord's Ascension; at the east end, possibly the Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi; at the west end the carving is supposed to represent the soul of the founder supported by angels. There is no trace of an inscription, but it has been surmised that the whole structure was the gift and tomb of a precentor or dean.
On the north side of the chancel are two lofty monuments of the 17th century. The one to the east is that of Sir William Periam, who was Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1592 and died in 1605, aged 70. He is represented in his scarlet judge's robe. He was a staunch Puritan, and was one of the judges of Queen Mary at Fotheringay , and presided at the trial of the Earl of Essex . He retired to Fulford, now Shobrooke Park, in the Parish of Shobrooke, near Crediton.
The monument to the west is that of John Tuckfield, of Fulford, who came into possession of the place after the death of Sir William Periam. He died in 1630 at the age of 75. In the centre is a full-length figures of his wife, her hands resting on a skull, and on either side, busts of himself and son. There are three inscriptions; in the centre:- To the memory of Elizabeth the wife of Thomas Tuckfield of Fulford Esq. by whom he had three sonnes John, Thomas, and Walther, and daughter of Richard Reynel of Credye Esq by Mary daughter and heir of John Peryam Esq.
On the left side is the inscription:- To the memory of John Tuckfield of Teadbourne and Fulforde, Esq, whose pietie towards God, Fidelitie to his friends, Bounty to his tenants, charitie to the poore, Honestye and Courtisie to all men made His life venerable, His death Peaceable. æta 75 Ao Do 1630.
On the right side is the inscription:- Dignissimo Patri Clarissime Qui Conjuge Hoc Posui indignissimus Thomas Tuckfield de Fulford. XII March 1630. "Why doe I live a thrall of joy and all Bereft Your winges were grown to heaven are flown Cause I had none am left."
At the east of the south chancel aisle, removed here from the north transept, is the tomb of Sir John Sully and his wife; they are buried in the north transept. The knight is clad in armour of the 14th century, and his wife wears the square head-dress of the same period. Sir John fought at Halidon Hill , at the Siege of Berwick , and in the battles of the Black Prince [1330-1376] at Crécy , Poitiers , etc. He died at Iddesleigh (afterwards the property of the Northcote family) in 1387, being about 105 years of age.
Underneath the east window of the north aisle is a very fine carved oak chest, it was restored to the church in 1901, after having been for some years in Trobridge Manor House. The front is divided into five panels, four of which are ornamented with ogee arches, with carved crockets, the central panel has a carving representing the Adoration of the Magi, the lock is a fine example of iron work. The chest probably dates from the 16th century.
On the south side of the south choir aisle is an addition to the church in the form of a porch and vestry on the ground floor, with the Governor's Room above. In the porch is an old money box with three locks, and on the north side of the door is a double piscina. The Governor's Room, reached by a circular flight of steps, has some old armour suspended from the massive oak beams, and on each side of the fireplace are old riding boots, probably dating from the time of the Commonwealth [1649-1659]. In the north chancel aisle is a tablet, with an inscription, recording the death of Giles Colkdale; he was treasurer of the church and Rector of Thurlestone and North Huish; he died on August 18th 1527. A brass tablet, on the north west column of the tower, near the pulpit, bears the following inscription:- To the Glory of God
And to the Dear Memory of
most loving and beloved father
who died on June 2nd 1908
This brass is placed here by
Georgianna Buller, his only child.
He is buried in the family vault at the northeast end of the churchyard.
The font is Norman [plate 73d], a square top on a thick central shaft with smaller shafts at the corners, the carved oak cover was given by the Dart family in 1908.
The first vicar recorded is Peter Duncan, 1583.
The registers date: baptisms, 1558; marriages, 1558; burials, 1557.