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.
MONKLEIGH. St. George. The Perpendicular church consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, south porch, and embattled west tower 70 feet in height, containing six bells dated (2) 1711; tenor 1734, (1) 1771 and (4) 1833; the third has an inscription in Old English characters.
The rood screen has been removed and the chancel modernised. There is a fine screen separating the Annery Chapel from the south aisle [plate 162a]; the carving on the east side of this screen is remarkably good, it is in high relief, and I know of nothing to equal it except the parclose screen at Combe Martin, they are very similar in many respects.
In the Annery Chapel is the tomb of Sir W. Hankford, Chief Justice of the King's Bench 1414-1422. He committed suicide in a novel manner. Not wishing to take his own life he told one of the gamekeepers that he thought there were poachers about, and gave him strict orders to shoot any man passing through the deer park at night who refused to stand when challenged; when night came he went into the park and was shot by his own keeper. Thomasine Hankford, who is buried at Bampton, was granddaughter of Sir William Hankford. In the Annery Chapel are some fine bench-ends and remnants of the old rood screen dating from the early part of the 16th century. On the ends of the benches are a number of shields bearing the emblems of the Passion: the spear and sponge, hammer, ladder, scourge, a hand holding a bag, the cross, and the crown of thorns. These symbols of the Passion are not so common on the Devonshire bench-ends as they are in Cornwall. Three of the bench-ends have panels of special interest: they bear the arms of the St. Ledger family; one of the finest is just behind the priest's door and is thus described by Mr. W. H. Hamilton Rogers in his The Sepulchral Effigies in the Parish Churches of North Devon:- "(1) St. Ledger; (2) or, a chief indented azure (Butler, Earl of Ormond); (3) a lion rampant (Rochford); (4) Hankford; (5) Stapledon; (6) three pairs of pincers (Donet); above, a helmet with crest, on a wreath a falcon rising from a panache of ostrich feathers (Butler); supporters, dexter, a falcon, sinister, a griffin [plate 162b]."
The font is Norman, and the decoration rather unusual. It resembles very much an inverted lamp-shade, round the top is a plain band, near the bottom the bowl decreases in size and then expands. If the bowl was made of some textile substance, one would describe it as being pleated and tied in at the waist, as the carving is done to resemble pleats; it is mounted on a shaft [plate 162c].
This church is rather out of the beaten track and has not received the notice it deserves. It is better worth visiting than many that have had longer accounts written about them.
The registers date: baptisms, 1567; marriages, 1548; burials, 1558.