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.
Exbourne, page 95
EXBOURNE. St. Mary. The church consists of chancel, with priest's door, nave, south aisle divided from nave by three arches, resting on granite monoliths, south porch, and west tower. The arch of the tower is said to be the most ancient portion of the existing building, it most probably dates from the 13th century. In the chancel wall is an opening, apparently a piscina, but too low for that purpose as the floor level is at present; probably the chancel floor has been raised.
There is an interesting rood screen [plate 95] with good detail and of early date. It has open traceried arcades, the spandrels being pierced, the lights are rectangular as at Bow and Calverleigh, and the screen originally supported a flat coving instead of the more usual groining. The screen was taken down in 1835 and stored. In 1889 it was restored to its proper position after undergoing repair. The date of the screen is said to be about 1420. There are some remains of ancient gilt and colour; most of the lower panels are new and plain, but one or two show faint traces of paintings. There is a cornice of two rows of leaves and grapes, and a low cresting; the doors remain. An inscription states the screen was restored:- To the honour and glory of Almighty God and in memory of many whose remains are interred within and around these walls - on whose souls may God have mercy - this screen erected circa A.D. 1440-50, and removed about the year 1836 was restored to its place A.D. 1899.
The church has been restored and has some good modern carved bench-ends, amongst the subjects will be found: the emblems of the Passion; a grape vine; the thistle; the arms and initials of Archbishop Temple [elected 1896]; H. E. R. Exon (Bishop Ryle); V. R. I. 1837-91. The seats were given by Miss Hole in memory of Emily Francis Hole, widow of the Rev. Nathaniel John Brassey Hole, Rector of Broadwood Kelly. The south aisle retains its high pews. The pulpit is old, it bears the date 1665, a peculiarity about it is that it is entered direct from the vestry.
In the floor of the nave is a stone with the following inscription:- Here lyeth the body of Richard Downe son of William Downe of this Parish who was here buried the 16th day of December, Anno Domi 1710.
Silence my youthful
Daye soon sped I
Left my cradle and
Come here to bed."
There is a good west door, square-headed, with the spandrels carved, and an empty image niche above; there is another image niche close to the south door of the church, and also a holy water stoup. In the church is preserved the old "stock box" with two locks, and banded with iron. Sometimes these boxes were the property of some particular guild connected with the church, but more often they belonged to the parish, and were used for keeping the parochial money called "Church Stock".
The first vicar seems to have been William de Mules, 1266.
The registers date from 1540; and the churchwardens' accounts are in unbroken succession from the time of Charles II [1660-1685].