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.
HONITON. St. Michael. The church is cruciform in shape and was erected about 1480, the aisles were added later, in 1529, the chancel was partly rebuilt at the same time. Round the pillars of the church runs an inscription asking for the souls of John and Joan Takell who restored the chancel. On the floor of the north aisle is the tombstone of Joan Takell, 1529.
The western tower, containing five bells, is thought to have been erected by Bishop Courtenay of Norwich [elected 1413], it is believed he also erected the rood screen. An old record says, "Peter Courtenay built good part of this church, which in his days was made from a little chapel into a handsome parish church, and the arms of his family are in the pillars of the church; he likewise in all probability made a curious skreen of fine workmanship, that is between the body of the Church and the chancel. He also built the tower, as his father's arms impaled with those of his mother in the tower window do show."
The aisles have old cradle roofs with good bosses. From the angle piers of the transept crossing spring four large oak ribs with coloured bosses. Possibly these were intended to support a central tower. The chancel and its aisles have Perpendicular piers, and on the central capitals are ribands with the inscription:- Pray for ye soul of John Takell & Jone hys wyffe.
The rood screen of eleven bays is 46 feet in length and extends across the chancel and aisles [plate 127]. The tracery of the arcades shows the tilting shields between the cuspings. The groining, cornices and the three sets of doors remain. The screen was restored in 1880, when a panel bearing the arms of George II [r. 1727-1760] quartered with those of France and Hanover were removed and is said to have been taken to Exeter.
There is a marble tomb containing the remains of Thomas Marwood who "practised physick in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth" having the following inscription:- "Here lieth the body of Thomas Marwood Gent who practised physick and chirurgery above seventy five years, and being zealous of good works gave certain houses and bequeathed by his will to the poor of Honiton ten pounds, and being aged above one hundred and five years, departed in the Catholick Faith September 18th. Anno Domini 1617. Here also lieth Temperance the Wife of the above said Thomas Marwood Who dyed the 9th of October Anno Dni 1644." Marwood became famous in consequence of his having cured the Earl of Essex [1566-1601] of a complaint that afflicted him, and for this he was given by Elizabeth [r. 1558-1603] an estate near Honiton.
The registers date: baptisms, 1562; marriages, 1598; burials, 1562.