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.
PARRACOMBE. St. Petrock. The church [plate 179a] consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, south porch, and west tower. There were originally three bells, one recast in 1655, another in 1669, and the third in 1743, these bells have been removed to the new church in the village. The oldest parts of the church are Transitional Norman. The chancel is possibly Early English, the south aisle is Perpendicular. The principal object of interest is the screen, this and the screen at Molland are, as far as I know, the only examples we have left in Devonshire of the complete chancel enclosure of the post-Reformation type. The screen [plate 179b] consists of narrow rectangular lights, four on the north side, six on the south of the chancel door; over this is the tympanum filling the chancel arch, on this are hung paintings of the arms of one of the [King] Georges, the Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, texts, and the names of Walter Lock and Richard Harton, who were churchwardens in 1758. Mr. Bligh Bond says that in 1780 the rood beam was in existence, and was then cut up for the purpose of making bench-ends, but there is still a beam in situ above the screen which may have been a rood beam. This church is a typical example of what our parish churches looked like a century or more ago [i.e., before 1810]. Here is the old "three-decker" pulpit with sounding board [plate 179c], the altar enclosed with rails on three sides, horse-box pews, and raised seats at the west end of the nave for the choir, with holes cut in the pew front for the accommodation of the player of the bass-viol. The Transitional Norman font has been transferred to the new church, and the old church is only used occasionally in the summer months. Unfortunately early in 1908 the church was struck by lightning and much damage done. The tower was cracked, the pulpit and screen split, and the interior of the church almost ruined.
The registers date from 1687.