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.
DUNCHIDEOCK. St. Michael and All Angels. The church is built of red sandstone, is Perpendicular, and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, Lady Chapel, south porch, and embattled west tower, 55 feet in height, containing three bells, the first is dated 1700, the second has a legend in Old English type, and the tenor has an invocation to St. John.
The nave and Lady Chapel were restored some twenty-seven years since [ca. 1887] by Sir W. and Lady Waldron; the chancel was restored at the same time.
The Gothic screen [plate 90a] dates from the 15th century, and is complete with doors, groining [plate 90b] and cornice. The feature to which I wish to call attention in this church is the elaborate carving of the pier casing [plate 90c] between the sections of the screen. When the screens were erected in sections between the pillars instead of stretching continuously across the church in front of them, the pillars were naturally left exposed, and it became necessary, if the screen was not to be marred, to cover the pillars with carvings of wood, called pier casings. They vary much in merit, some being most elaborately carved, and others not much more than plain wainscot. The one in this church is a very good example, the workmanship being most delicate. At Combe Martin the casing is provided with niches to hold statuettes, and Harberton has a most elaborate carving for the piers. The rood loft is six feet in width. In former years the south bay of the screen was cut to make room for a "three-decker" pulpit, but since the appointment of the present rector this has been removed and the screen restored. Notice should be taken of the richly carved pier casing. The ancient rood loft staircase can still be seen in the south wall.
For many years the lower portion of the tower was used as a burial place of the Haldon family, but it has now been opened up to the church, and the coffins removed to a vault in the churchyard.
There are fine carved bench-ends, four inches thick throughout the church. There is also a very fine carved oak pulpit, modern, but of good workmanship, that is in complete keeping with the screen. It has been erected in memory of Colonel Lucas, of Dunchideock House, a benefactor of the church, and through whose efforts the restoration of the screen was made possible. The pulpit contains five bays with carved statuettes; in the centre, our Lord seated in the act of teaching; on His right, St. Augustine [died 604], the great missionary to this country; on His left, St Boniface [died 754], the great missionary from this country to the Germans, himself a Devonshire man, born at Credition and educated at Exeter; on the right of St. Augustine, St. Columba [died 597], the great missionary of the North, in his hand the [map of] Cathay or MS. of the Psalter which was the cause of his exile to Iona, from whence sprang the conversion of England. He wears the Celtic tonsure. The fifth niche is still vacant. This may truly be called a missionary pulpit.
The list of rectors is almost perfect from William de Lapeflod to the present day.
The registers date: baptisms, 1538; marriages, 1539; burials, 1540.