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.
DOWLAND. St. Peter ? The church [plate 87a] consists of chancel with priest's door, nave, north aisle separated from the nave by three arches, south porch and west tower with five bells. The church was originally built in 1160, and the dedication though doubtful is supposed to be to St. Peter. The rood screen was removed in 1858. The bells were re-hung during 1885-86; and the inscription on one reads:- "We wish it to be understood, though we are little we're very good."
A feature worthy of note will be found in the pillars supporting the arches dividing the nave and aisle, the half pillars at the east end, and the pillar opposite the south door are of wood, the other is a square block of masonry. The wooden pillars which are of the form as if they were made of stone must have been inserted when the original pillars became decayed.
Inside the south door is a holy water stoup, not as is usually the case sunk in the wall, but a small hollowed out stone attached to it. In the arcade over the wooden pillars can be discerned the remains of an old text, but it has been partially obliterated by a coat of whitewash. The font has an old small octagonal bowl mounted on a later shaft. Some of the bench-ends are very finely carved. One has a scroll with the initials "C.P.", "W.B."; another a crown and crossed keys, another [plate 87b] two heads, one with the tongue standing out, and the finest in the church bears a coat of arms with the words "St. Peter" beneath and the date MDXLVI [plate 87c].
At the end of the aisle are some old tombstones dated 1601, 1612, 1655. There are no old monuments.
The registers date: baptisms, 1743; marriages, 1742; burials, 1742.