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.
HARFORD. St. Petrock. The church [plate 113a] consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, north chapel, now used as an organ chamber, south porch, and west tower with one bell. The roofs are waggon-shaped and the ribs, bosses and wall plates are well carved, at the east end of the aisle there are bosses carved with a heart and fleur-de-lis, and near the centre one with a lamb. There is an inscription on the wall plate on the north side of the choir:- I. H. S. Helpe us . Amen . Walter Hele
Pson 1530 . I. H. S. Salus.
On the north side of the chancel is a marble tablet with the following inscription:-
On Mrs. Eliz: Williams
Deare to her Parents here doth lye
One admired for piety
of yeares but nine, yet knew more
of Goodness than some of three score
God gives but seldom length of days
To Plants of such Esteeme and Praise
Heaven cannot suffer such a Birth
To be long Sullied with dull Earth
Cease we then from unjust complaints
God always loves such early saints.
On Mrs. Mary Williams
Next lies the glory of her kind
the ripe Indowments of whose mind
had left her years so much behind
That numbering of her virtues praise
Death lost ye reckoning of her days
She's gone to rest just as she did beg
Sorrow to know before she had Known sin.
Death that doth sin & sorrow thus Present
Is the next blessing to a life well spent.
Both to their Parents dere honour paid
trusting in God for heavenly Aid
That when time shall be no more
they may together his name adore
Stay Reader all's not here Exprest
But silent Grief sighs out the rest."
Beneath this tablet is a tomb [plate 113b] retaining a brass in a very good state of preservation. It is memory of Thomas Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons [elected January 12th 1563]. He is arrayed in full armour, the hands joined in prayer, the head with short hair rests on a helmet, he wears sword, miserecorde, skirt of mail and broad-toed sabbatons. The inscription is as follows:-
"Here lyeth the corps of Thomas Williams, Esquire
Twise reader he in court appointed was
Whose sacred mind to virtue did aspire
of parliament he speaker hence did passe
The common peace he studied to preserve
And trew religion ever to maynteyne
In place of Justyce when as he did serve
And nowe in heaven with mightie Jove both Raigne."
Obiit primo die mensis Julii Ao Dni Moccccclxvi.
Aetatis suæ anno quinquagesimo secundo.
The altar, communion rails and chairs were presented to the church in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee [of Queen Victoria in 1897].
In the chancel there is a piscina without drain and in the south wall of the chancel there is a hagioscope. On the south wall of the nave is a painted metal memorial in a wooden frame. Thereon are represented eight men and four women kneeling at a prayer desk. The women are arrayed in ruffs and long flowing black gowns, the foremost figure with black, the others with white dresses. The men are also arrayed in long gowns and wear ruffs. With the exception of one who wears a red gown, all the men are in black dress, and all kneel on red cushions with gold braid. There is the following inscription:- Here rest the bodies of John Prideaux of
Stowford, and Agnes his only wife, The
Parents of (7) Sonnes and (3) Daughters
John Prideaux the 4th Sonne Doctor of
Divinity and the King's Maiesties Profes
sour thereof in the University of Oxford
Rector of Exeter Colledge and Chap
lain to Princy Henry, King James the
first and King Charles the first
hath left this filiall
July 20, 1639.
There are apparently eight sons behind the father, but it will be seen that the inscription states there were seven sons. The one in red gown represents John Prideaux, Bishop of Worcester. His family were in poor circumstances, and his first effort to advance himself was to seek the office of parish clerk in the Parish of Ugborough; two men were selected for trial in order to ascertain which of the two had the best voice and best delivery of reading, Prideaux was defeated, but in after years was often heard to say, "Had I been parish clerk at Ugborough, I should never have been Bishop of Worcester."
There is a holy water stoup near the south door and over the door are the Royal arms dated 1728. In the belfry against the wall are preserved four old slate tombstones with the following inscriptions:- Here lye interred the bodies of Jane the wife
of Thomas Williams of Stowford Esq: who died
ye 27 of May 1606 and Emylyn their daughter
died the 19th day of December 1610.
Here lieth Anne Daughter of Thomas
Williams Esq: and Jane his wife, who
died ye 22 of February 1602.
Here was buried John Edgcom of Bramehill
who died the 22 day of February Anno Dni
Here lye interred the bodies of John
Williams of Stowford Esq: who died the
1st day of November Anno Domm 1615,
and Mary his wife Daughter of Edward
Drew of Leyne Esq: who died the
29th day of October ano 1620.
In the belfry is preserved an old font with round bowl and part of the shaft.
The registers date: baptisms, 1725; marriages, 1724; burials, 1724.