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.
MALBOROUGH. All Saints. The Perpendicular church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south porches, and tower with spire containing six bells.
The church has an old font, a piscina, and on the east side of the north porch a holy water stoup inside the doorway. This is a very unusual position. The majority of the stoups in Devonshire churches are very plain, and this example shows much more carving than is usually found [plate 154a].
On the door we see the ancient fastening. Of course this kind of fastening could only be applied from the inside, and the person using it must either go out by another door with a key, or else make his exit through the window.
The spire has twice been struck by lightning; on the second occasion in 1829 a rather curious incident is connected with the occurrence. A parishioner, who had died a few days previously, before his death told his friends that if he was not buried before midday there would be difficulty in burying him, and so it happened, for while the clergyman was reading the Burial Service the storm commenced and a flash of lightning struck the church spire, which so frightened the priest and people that they fled from the church, and funeral did not take place until the storm had passed away.
At one time there was a very fine rood screen, but it was removed by order of Archdeacon Earle [1827-1918], and all that now remains is a portion consisting of three bays in each of the eastern bays, north and south of the chancel. They are of good Perpendicular character with rich vine leaf adornment, but there is no groining [plate 154b].
In the churchyard is the following inscription on a gravestone:-
Though boisterous winds and Neptunes waves
Have tossed me to and fro
Yet I at last by God's decree
Am anchored here below
In hopes once more for to set sail
With all our noble fleet
With trumpets sounding in the air
My General Christ to meet.
Before there was a church at Salcombe, all who died there were taken to Malborough for interment. The church is the highest point for miles, a beacon for all the neighbouring parishes.
The registers date from 1558.