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.
MORTEHOE. St. Mary Magdalene. The church [plate 165a] consists of chancel, with priest's door, north aisle, south transept, south porch, and tower on the north side of the nave. The building, which was completely restored in 1857-59, has a 13th century chancel, most of the rest of the church is Perpendicular. There are some good carved bench-ends. The south transept contains an object in the shape of an old tomb [plate 165b], which has caused a good deal of controversy between those who consider it to be the tomb of the Sir William de Tracey who murdered [Thomas á] Becket [in 1170], and those who believe it to be the resting place of the Sir William de Tracey, who was Rector of Mortehoe, and died in 1322. The upper slab of black or dark grey marble, has incised in it the figure of a priest in full vestments, with a chalice on his breast. The inscription is much defaced, Risdon says:- "On whose mangled monument I found this fragment of a French inscription, in this ancient character 'Syree Williame de Trace-Il enat eeys-Meercy'." On the north side of the tomb are three shields; the first, with three lions passant, in pale for Camvill; the second, two bars (Martyn); and the third, a saltire, charged with three plates (?). On the same side, beneath plain canopies, are effigies representing St. Catherine with her wheel, and St. Mary Magdalene, with long flowing hair. The south side of the tomb is divided into seven compartments, filled with Early Decorated tracery; the Crucifixion forms the subject of the carving at the west end of the tomb (see Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, Vol. 6, p. 188).
The modern pulpit is of Bath stone, and the windows are filled with some good modern glass.
The registers date from 1727.