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.
LYDFORD. St. Petrock. The first church on the site is supposed to have been of wood, but this was probably burnt by the Danes [ca. 1000]. This was replaced by one built of stone. The first stone church was rebuilt, restored and rededicated by Bishop Bronescombe on August 3rd or 4th 1261, and consisted of chancel and nave. In the 15th century the south aisle (with a second altar to the Blessed Virgin, the piscina of which may still be seen in the south aisle wall) and the rood screen were added. In 1889 the church was thoroughly restored and a new north aisle and vestry added. The tower contains a peal of five bells re-hung in 1904, the tenor bearing the following inscription:-
"I to the church the living call
And to the grave I summon all.
Thomas Pearce Hockin, Rector, T.P., C.P., 1789."
The ancient rood screen was removed, but a modern one [plate 153a] was erected in 1903 by the Radford family in memory of Daniel Radford, formerly resident of Lydford Bridge House. The rood screen has been designed to reproduce as nearly as possible the proportions of the ancient screen.
The rood staircase [plate 153b] is worthy of notice, it is of unusual design and is open all the way up to the point where the priest emerged. About the middle of the 15th century, when the south aisle was added, this staircase was pierced by a large hagioscope to enable the congregation in the new aisle to see the Elevation of the Host.
The porch is of Early English date and has a good holy water stoup on its eastern side. The font of granite is small and circular and apparently of Early English date. Rowe says, "it is of such antique simplicity that it may have been coeval with the departed glories of Lydford in Saxon times."
The west door [plate 153c] is square-headed with plain spoliated spandrels and deep mouldings in the jambs; outside this door may be seen the parish stocks.
On a tomb in the churchyard there is a curious inscription to a watchmaker named George Roughleigh, as follows:-
"Here lies, in a horizontal position
The outside case of
George Roughleigh, watchmaker,
Whose abilities in that line were a honour
To his profession :
Integrity was the main spring
And prudence the regulator
Of all the actions of his life ;
Humane, generous, and liberal,
His hand never stopped
Till he had relieved distress ;
So nicely were all his actions regulated
That he never went wrong,
Except when set a going
Who did not know his key :
Even then he was easily set right again.
He had the art of disposing his time so well
That his hours glided away
In one continual round
Of pleasures and delight,
Till and unlucky minute put a period to
He departed this life Nov. 14th, 1802,
In hopes of being taken in hand
By his Maker,
And of being thoroughly cleaned and repaired,
And set a-going
In the world to come."
Lydford is the largest parish in Devonshire, containing 56,333 acres [ca. 88 sq. miles], including the whole of Dartmoor.
The registers date: baptisms, 1716; marriages, 1719; burials, 1716.