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.
MEMBURY. St. John the Baptist. The church consists of chancel, with piscina and priest's door, nave, south aisle, separated from nave by four arches, north transept, south porch with holy water stoup, and west tower. The east end of the aisle is enclosed by a screen of two bays, and a doorway retaining its doors [plate 159a]. The cornice is plain and the screen never had any groining. Over the door is painted a coat of arms, that of the Fry and Langton families, and the lower panels are ornamented with linen-fold pattern. This screen forms the entrance to the Yarty Chapel. There is an estate in the parish called Yarty House, now a farmhouse belonging to the Yarty family, whose heiress in 1406 brought it to John Fry. Their descendants were for many generations important people in the neighbourhood, intermarrying into the Yonge and other families, and in the chapel we find their monuments.
Just inside the screen, on the right hand side, is the monument of the Fry family, with figures of a man and a woman kneeling facing each other, with a prie-dieu, with a book and skull carved on the front, between them. They both wear ruffs, and long robes, and kneel on cushions. The inscription is as follows:- Here lieth the bodies of Nicholas Fry of Yeartie, Esq. died 25th October 1632 in the 79th year of his age, and of Elynor, his wife, the daughter of John Brett, of Whitstantone, in the county of Somerset, Esq. She died the 28th of March 1619 in the-- year of her age. They lived in wedlocke 37 years. They had issue 4 sonnes and 6 daughters. William the eldest sonne who married Mary the youngest daughter of John Yonge Esq. Henry the second sonne who married Elizabeth the youngest daughter of Richard Parrett of Buckerell, Gent. Nicholas the third sonne who died an infant. John fourth sonne who yet liveth unmarried. Margaret the first daughter who married Robert Ashford, of Kingston newell, Esq. Elizabeth their second daughter who married Henry Worth of Worth, Esq. Bridgett their 3rd daughter who married Edward Pine of Eastdowne, Esq. Anne 4th daughter who died an infant. Alice the 5th daughter who married Henry Luscombe of Luscombe, Esq. Agnes who married Gideon Sherman of Knightstone -- The rest of the inscription is illegible.
In this chapel there is also a monument of Robert Fry of Yearty, who died in 1725, and a marble bust of Frances Fry, daughter of Robert Fry, who died in 1718. There is a hagioscope in this chapel.
Beneath an arch, under the north window in the transept, is a recumbent female figure supposed to represent Alice, the wife of Reginald de Mohun, and daughter of Lord Briwere, who died about the year 1257. It is a facsimile of the monument in Axminster Church, where she is buried. There is an old octagonal font with carved panels [plate 159b] under the tower arch, and in the south wall, near the tower, are the remains of an old pillar with carved capital.
Outside the screen is the monument of Sir Shilston Calmady, who was buried in the chancel on February 4th 1645; the monument formerly stood in the chancel. He was killed during the Civil Wars [1642-1651], in a battle at Ford, a house in the parish. In the register there are two entries referring to this period:- one, that on March 15th 1644, "There was buryed a solger which died at Mr. Longs"; the other, that on October 15th, a "Soldiear that was killed by the Chourch was buried." In this church will be found, near each monument, a card giving particulars and a copy of the inscription, a plan which might with advantage be copied in other churches.
The registers date: baptisms, 1637; marriages, 1638; burials, 1637.