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.
DUNSFORD. St Mary. The church consists of chancel, with piscina and priest's door, nave, north aisle, south porch, and west tower with six bells. There is a west gallery with organ, and beneath the gallery an oak screen across the tower entrance.
Fulford House must have existed for a great many years, for we find that, on July 8th 1402, Bishop Stafford granted a licence to Henry Fulford and Wilhelmina his wife for the performance of Divine Service "infra mansionis suas de Ffoleford et Morton." The Manor of Dunsford, which had previously beonged to the Priory of Canonsleigh, was purchased by Sir John Fulford at the Reformation. The present house was built by Sir John Fulford, who was Sheriff of Devon in the 5th year of Queen Mary [1553-1558], and the 19th of Queen Elizabeth [1558-1603]. The parish church is the burial place of the Fulford family, and the tomb [plate 92a] is a good example of richly decorated work of the Jacobean period [1603-1625]; on the base are the life-size figures of Sir Thomas Fulford and his wife Ursula. The male figure is arrayed in steel armour picked out in gold. He wears an Elizabethan ruff and wristbands, and a red velvet tunic and pantaloons; the head and hands are bare. His wife wears a dress of the same period with a trimming of gilt quatrefoils down the front, a ruff and flat head-dress. On a ledge at the back of the tomb kneel their children; the first figure in the row kneels before a desk. On the tomb is a shield with the arms of Fulford impaling Bamfield. The inscription is as follows:- Heare lye Sir Thomas Fulforde
who died last day of july ano do 1610
Also his wife Ursula, who died 1639
daughter of Richd Bamfield, of Poltimore, Esq.
1st Sir Francis, who married Ann heir of Bernard
Samways Esqr of Toller Dorset
2nd William, 3rd Thomas, 4th Bridget married to
Arthur Champerknowne Esqr of Dartington;
5th Elizabeth married to John Berriman Esq,
6th Ann, married to John Sydenham, of Somerset
The church also retains one of the old west galleries [plate 92b] which are so rapidly disappearing under the hand of the restorer.
In the chancel is a bishop's chair elaborately carved [plate 92c]. The only information I can obtain about it is that it is said to have been brought some years ago, from Culver House by a former vicar, Rev. Stephens, a son-in-law of Bishop Philpotts [elected 1831], who used to reside at Culver House until he built the present vicarage.
There is an octagonal font with shields of arms. It is modern, but is said to be a correct copy of the ancient one. The reredos is of stone, and so is the comparatively modern chancel screen [plate 92d], which consists of a central doorway, with two rectangular openings on each side divided into two bays; the upper portions filled with tracery, and the spandrels pierced; over the lights is a cornice, surmounted by a battlemented cresting.
There are some coloured bosses in the chancel roof. The church was restored and the chancel rebuilt in 1840, at a cost of £1,100.
The first vicar was Thomas de Bonville.