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.
PAIGNTON. St. John the Baptist. The Perpendicular church is cruciform and consists of chancel, nave, north and south transepts, north and south aisles, north and south porches, and west tower with six bells; the west doorway is Norman. The ancient rood screen was destroyed, but owing to the generosity of Mr. A. T. Barton, M.A., Vicegerent of Pembroke College, Oxford, a magnificent new screen [plate 177a] has been erected in memory of his sister; it consists of eight bays, extending across the north aisle and chancel, 31 feet in length. The best features of the most famous Devonshire screens have been taken as guides. The height from floor to cresting is 131/4 feet, a height which was governed by the doorway of the old loft. There is groining on the eastern as well as the western side; the panels of the vaulting are all cut out of solid four inch planks, and shew beautifully carved bosses at the points of intersection. The lower panels have deeply carved tracery work. The bays are filled with light open tracery, the cornice is the usual vine leaf enrichment, with birds, etc. Tilting shields have been embodied among the tracery. The cresting is very tall, something like that at Chawleigh. Around the central doorway are figures of the twelve Apostles.
The screen to the Kirkham Chantry is of stone, beautifully carved, but sadly mutilated [plate 177b]. A high tomb with two effigies, on either side of the entrance, has a rich canopy with arches surmounted by eight figures. On the north side the figures are fairly perfect, but on the south side both figures and arch have suffered. Two of the figures on the north side have lost their heads; five are holding shields but without armorial bearings. On each side of the base there are six decorated niches with figures of saints, twenty-four in all; in the hollow of the arch is a little figure of Samson carrying the gates of Gaza [Judg. 16:1-3], and on the south side a representation of Abraham offering Isaac [Gen. 22:12]. Beneath the canopy are groined arches and pendants. Round the central arch runs a border of tabernacle work in the niches of which are mutilated saints. In a recumbent position of each side of the central arch are two figures, male and female; on the west side the man has flowing hair and is wearing a hauberk closed on the at the top, round the neck is a chain in three folds, to which is attached a Maltese cross resting on the breast; the arms are broken off, and there is only one leg remaining which is encased in plate armour. Only the hilt of the sword is left, but the belt to which it was attached is around the waist. The foot of the remaining leg, which originally rested on some animal, probably a lion, is gone. The female figure has long hair, the head rests on a cushion supported by two angels, the arms are broken off. The figures on the east side are similar to those on the west, but in a worse state of preservation: they probably represent members of the Kirkham family, date 1450 to 1550. Prince says that in this chantry is buried Sir John Kirkham, who was Sheriff of Devon in the fifteenth year of Henry VIII [i.e., 1524-1525]; he was born at Blagdon in this parish.
There is an old carved stone pulpit, which is elaborately carved, but has been sadly mutilated.
The registers date from 1559.