Exeter St Olave


Some Old Devon Churches

By J. Stabb

London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)

Page 102

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.

EXETER. St. Olave. The church consists of chancel, nave, double north aisle, and tower on the south side with two bells. Dr. Oliver says there was probably a church erected during the reign of Canute [1016-1035], that is was given to Battle Abbey in Sussex, by William the Conqueror [r. 1066-1087], and that the presentation of the rector was vested in St. Nicholas' Priory from the close of the 11th century, until the suppression of the said monastery in the autumn of 1536; but the present fabric did not exist before the reign of King Edward III [1327-1377].

In 1685 the church was granted to a large body of French Protestants [Huguenots], who had left their native land on the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes [by Louis XIV on October 18th 1685]. They had possession of the church until the death of their last minister in 1759; later, the church was used for some time as a garrison chapel for the accommodation of the troops stationed in Exeter. In 1815 the church was considerably repaired, and since that date has remained one of the parish churches of Exeter. There is an old carving in stone on the east wall of the tower representing the Scourging of our Lord. The arch of the rood staircase and a few steps remain, but there is no vestige of an old screen. Across the chancel is a modern oak screen of five square-headed lights [plate 102], surmounted by a cross, with an angel on either side; according to an inscription it was:- erected to the Glory of God, and in memory of Mrs. Ellen Stephens Ingle, wife of the Rev. John Ingle, for 24 years Rector of this Parish; and of her sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Agnes Vallance, Easter, A.D. 1902.

There are some old tombstones, but they have been very badly treated, and in many cases the inscriptions are unreadable. One, at the west end, has the inscription:- Here lieth the body of M. Nicholas Aubin who was minister of Gravan, in Xaintonge, in France, he preached 6 years last March in this St. Olave's Church. Deceased ye 3rd of April 1788, aged 59 years the 6th of January last.

The first rector is Nicholas de Totton, 1276.

The registers date: baptisms, 1602; marriages, 1601; burials, 1601.