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.

DOLTON. St. Edmund. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower with six bells. The nave is separated from the aisles by arches of wide span, resting on short massive pillars. There is a piscina in the chapel and another in the north aisle. At the west end of the nave is a tablet in memory of a former rector of the parish with the inscription:-

To the memory of
William Knaplock
Master of Arts
and of the free school of Credition
Rector of this church
and of himself
ye comfort of his charge in his life
there crosse in his death
which fell fatally
to his friends and family
on ye 8th of October
--- 1664 ---
ætatis suæ
-- 66 --

The feature of the church is the old font, composed of two blocks of stone mounted one on top of the other, and carved with interlaced and serpentine patterns. The carved stone, of which the font is made, must be of great antiquity, and most probably formed part of one or possibly two ancient carved shafts, which, from the character of the carving, might date back for a 1000 years or more. When the shaft was converted into a font the upper portion was turned upside down, so to see the carving correctly the illustrations should be held in the same position. On the upper part of the south side [plate 86a] is a human face, an animal, possibly intended for a dragon, issuing from each nostril. On the west side [plate 86b] are two animals somewhat similar in character to those on the south, but they have wings and feet, and there is no human face in the centre of the panel. The eastern side [plate 86c] has two animals, apparently intended for some kind of fish, with their tails crossed and their heads uniting at the top of the bowl. The north side [plate 86d] is carved with the figure of eight pattern on the lower block, and the upper with an effective pattern which is constantly found on early sculptured stones in Great Britain.

The registers date: baptisms, 1608; marriages, 1610; burials, 1608.