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.
NORTH BOVEY. St. John the Baptist. The church is Perpendicular, and was probably erected late in the 15th century, but it is possible the tower belonged to an earlier edifice, pieces of Caen stone, the remains of an earlier church, have been found embedded in the walls.
The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, and embattled west tower containing six bells. In the chancel roof are some curious bosses, amongst them are the heads of Edward I [r. 1272-1307] and his two Queens, Eleanor of Castile [1246-1290], and Marguerite of France [1279-1319]; another has three rabbits, their ears meeting a forming a triangle as at Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Some time in the 18th century many of the old oak benches were removed and deal boxes substituted, at the same time the screen was mutilated and a hideous west gallery erected, with a common deal screen, the present deal pulpit was put in the church and the rood staircase walled up. The present vicar has put in a good east window and renewed the stone tracery, restored the screen with old work from other churches, added carved oak reredos, erected a tower screen, removed the whitewash from the interior, and recast one of the six bells. His predecessor removed the old west gallery and opened up the west end, this has since been made into a vestry, portions of the old deal screen being utilised for a new screen.
The rood screen is Perpendicular [plate 170], and the lights are filled with Third Pointed tracery. These lights evidently were not originally made for the screen, they have been adapted to fit their present position. The groining is gone and the spandrels have been filled with fragments of old carving. There is a good cornice of vine leaves and grapes. The jambs of the chancel doorway are adorned with small statuettes of the Apostles, each standing under an elaborate canopy. The lower panels differ in nave and aisles, but the design is good. There are north and south parclose screens. The font is octagonal and has a moulded pedestal.
The registers date from 1572.