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.
HOLNE. St. Mary. The church [plate 124a] consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, south porch, and embattled west tower with five bells. It was probably erected towards the end of the 13th century.
There is a fine Perpendicular rood screen. The groining is gone and the spandrels are filled with fragments of the old carving. There is a good cornice of vine leaves and grapes with the cresting missing. The doors remain, but the loft staircase has been blocked up. The lower panels contain paintings, including St. Matthew, St. Luke, St. John, St. Peter, St. James the Great, St. James the Less, St. Philip, St. Matthias, St. Simon, St. Jude, St. Mary Magdalene (with box of ointment), St. Jerome (as a cardinal), Pope Gregory (with triple crown), St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Sebastian, St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Cecilia, St. Roche, St. Apollonia, St. Dunstan, and on the central doors the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin; this subject will be found at Portlemouth and Torbryan. The screen retains its ancient colour and is thought by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould to have been erected by Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter 1504-1519.
The pulpit [plate 124b] is of the same date as the screen, 1504-1519, and was probably erected by the same bishop. It is elaborately carved and divided into eight compartments by eight crocketed and finialed ogee arches; there are slender buttresses separating the arches, and on the tops are the figures of eight lions. In each compartment there is a shield of arms. Here will be found the arms of Buckfast Abbey [founded 1018; re-established 1136; suppressed 1539; re-founded 1882], the arms of Lacy [elected Bishop of Exeter 1420], and one commemorating the marriage of William Bourchier with [Thomasine] the heiress of Hankford.
Near the screen is preserved a font [plate 124c] said to be the one in which Charles Kingsley was baptised, his father, at the time of his birth, being curate at Holne. It seems doubtful if this is really the old font belonging to the church, as for a long time that was missing from the church and another was in use. When search was made to see if the old font could be found anywhere in the neighbourhood, a circular bowl of granite was found in a farmyard, and it was taken for granted that this was the ancient font, but there is more than a possibility of its being the base of the old churchyard cross, with the hole for the socket enlarged to make it suitable for a drinking trough.
In the north transept is a window to the memory of Charles Kingsley [1819-1875; author of The Water Babies], representing the offerings of the Wise Men, with his portrait at the top.
The altar table is of carved oak from the roof of Dartington Hall.
The last rector was John de Wyteby, 1310; since his time the living has been a vicarage.
The registers date: baptisms, 1603; marriages, 1653; burials, 1618.