Some Old Devon Churches
By J. Stabb
London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)
Transcribed and edited by Dr Roger Peters
Full text available at
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.
HALBERTON. St. Andrew. The church [plate 111a] was probably built late in the 14th or early in the 15th century, but the tower is older, early 14th century.
From the presence of a Norman font, and also an old moulding at the base of one of the pillars, it is clear that there was a Norman building on the site of the present church; some fragments were found in the vicarage garden of apparently Decorated capitals, whether they belong to the church is not known, but if they did, the inference is that the present church is the third and largest of three, the Decorated church being smaller than the present building, but larger than the Norman.
The rood screen dates from about 1400 [plate 111b], but the parclose screens are older, probably about 1300, and this bears out the idea that there have been three churches on the present site. The parclose screens, especially that on the south side, are of the true Devonshire type of carving. The south is earlier in date than the north. Mr. Bligh Bond, in his article on "Devonshire Screens and Rood Lofts", read before the Devonshire Association in July 1903, referring to these screens says, "It is believed that when Canon Girdlestone was vicar here [1862-1872], he caused some screenwork to be set up in the church which had been removed from Bristol Cathedral. Possibly the differences in design of the parcloses may be attributed to one having such an origin." The vicar tells me this is incorrect, the only carving brought by Canon Girdlestone is in the vestry, and is used I believe as a cupboard.
Special attention should be given to the pulpit plates [111c and 111d], which dates from about 1400. Pre-Reformation pulpits are rare, and this one is in an excellent state of preservation. The chancel was restored in 1887. The tower contains six bells, they were recast in 1841. In 1886 the churchyard was enlarged.
From some old churchwardens' accounts it appears that the "Palm Cross" was taken down in 1577, and an elm tree [Ulmus sp.] planted in its place.
Remains of chantry were found in the churchyard some years ago, but there are no records regarding it.
The registers date: baptisms, 1620; marriages, 1612; burials, 1605.