Exeter St Pancras


Some Old Devon Churches

By J. Stabb

London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)

Page 103

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. Pancras. The church [plate 103a] consists of chancel and nave, with bell turret. The building bears evidence of greater antiquity than almost any other church in Exeter, the font [plate 103b] is probably the oldest in Exeter. It is massive and circular, with a decoration of pellet moulding round the top; it has been restored by scraping it as smooth as possible, so removing the appearance of the antiquity it undoubtedly has. The chancel has some old windows; the east is a lancet of three lights with trefoiled head; on the north side of the chancel is one of two lights and a single lancet of great age. On the south side of the chancel is a piscina with pointed trefoil arch, and over the piscina is square opening in the wall of no great depth; it may have been an aumbry, but hardly seems large enough, and it is rather too high in the wall, possibly the explanation offered of a similar opening at Buckland Monachorum may apply here.

The east window, filled with glass, representing our Lord on the Cross, St. Pancras, and St. Boniface, was given by Bishop Tozer. There are many memorials of the now demolished church of All Hallows, the pulpit, mural tablets, the organ at the west end, and the panelling round the walls, all came from that church, and the altar cross was brought with the proceeds of the sale of the All Hallows' bell. The Tudor pulpit is well carved, but bears evidence of having been cut in half; there are two figures beneath the book-rest, at one time there must have been figures at the other corners as well. Close to the pulpit is the entrance to the rood staircase, part of the stairs remain, but the upper doorway has been walled up. Near the east end of the south wall of the nave is a recess, which may have been a piscina, it there was a small altar in front of the old screen; I do not think from its position it could have been a holy water stoup.

The arms of Charles II [r. 1660-1685], with the date 1680, are preserved near the door. On the south wall is a tablet in memory of Loveday Bellett, with the following inscription:- Loveday the daughter of Christopher Bellett late of Bochim in the county of Cornwall Esq by Bridget the Daughter of William Pendarves of Roskrow in ye sd County Esq, Lyes buried near this place. She died in this City the 16th day of Sept Anno Dom. 1711 of ye smallpox a Distemper so remarkably fatal to her family that no less than four of her sisters died of it in the Months of Feby and March 1716-17 in the Boroughs of Penryn & Fowey in Cornwall aforesaid.

On the north side of the chancel is the tombstone of Anne Salter, wife of Anthony Salter, who died July 14th 1606; and on the south side that of Peter Vilvaine, sometime Steward of Exeter, who deceased September 5th 1602, and Ann Vilvaine, his widow, deceased September 24th 1616.

The ancient bell in the turret has the inscription:- Quamvis sum parva, tamen audior ampla parva, R.N.

The initials R.N. probably refer to Robert Norton, of Exeter, a well-known bell founder in the reign of Henry VI [1422-1461 & 1470-1471].

The registers date: baptisms, 1664; marriages, 1676; burials, 1666.