Opening of the New Church at Peters Marland

Transcribed by Betsy Rubel (beharu[at]sbcglobal[dot]net)

Note: The church at Petersmarland was restored in 1865 by J.C.Moore-Stevens, J.P., of Winscott House, the principal landowner in the parish. The text below was found while transcribing the Parish records microfiche for Peters Marland - it is from a typeset article that the clerk or minister must have inserted into the parish register. There is a hard-to-read note on the previous page in the register mentioning a weekly called the Halle Devon Journal(?) from Barnstaple. The article is presumably from this journal.

Thursday last was a joyous day for this quiet little parish, on the occasion of the opening for Divine service of its new church, which has been entirely re-built by the munificence, and at the sole cost of J. C. Moore-Stevens, Esq., of Winscott. Time, and the usual amount of neglect and injudicious repairs, had reduced the ancient edifice to a state from which it was found difficult to restore it to a satisfactory condition, and Mr. Moore-Stevens decided to rebuild it entirely. The plans were prepared by Mr. W. White, F.S.A., of London, and the work has been exceedingly well executed by Mr. Samuel Hooper, of Hatherleigh. The style is Early Decorated, and the building consists of nave, chancel and sanctorium, regular north and south aisle, divided from nave and chancel by pillars of single lengths, and arches of Hatherleigh stone, with well wrought capitals and bases. The roofs are of red deal of simple and good construction, that of the nave having tie-beams, whose peculiar form gives them good effect - whilst they import great strength to the roof. The floor is of Minton's red and black tiles, laid in a variety of patterns, that of the chancel is enriched with coats of arms of the founder, and other emblems. The windows, of Hatherleigh stone, are all good, their tracery elaborate and varied. The east window and the south chancel is filled with stained glass, by Mr. Beer of Exeter, the former being a memorial to the late Venerable Archdeacon Moore-Stevens and his wife, and the south chancel in memory of Mr. Moore-Steven's two children. The whole of the seating in the chancel, as well as the desk and pulpit, are of English oak, handsomely carved, - that of the nave and aisles having the ends and top rails of oak, and the divisions and benches of re deal. There is also a vestry at the east end of the the north aisle. The tower only remains of the ancient fabric, and it has also undergone a thorough restoration. Besides repairs of battlements and pinnacles and repointing, two buttresses have been inserted on the west side. The opening day was ushered in by the tower sending forth from its five bells (a new one by Warner, having recently been added and the whole of the others re hung) exultant peals. A goodly congregation from the country round assembles to celebrate the glad event. The Squire of Winscott courteously received his friends and neighbors as they arrived at the church, and assigned to each and all their proper place therin, where it may be truely said "the rich and the poor met together" and seemed throughly imbued with the feeling that "the Lord was the maker of them all". At the altar were seated the Ven. the Archdeacons of Barnstaple and of Totnes; the Incumbent, the Rev. J.R. Powell, read the prayers and his predecessor the Rev. J.H. Kerwin, of Bucks, the lessons. Of the clergy present, there were the Rev. J. Guard, Langtree; L. Woollcombe, Petrockstow; W.W. Gurney, Roborough; H.D. Shapter, Dowland; J.C. Kemp, Meron; J.C.D. Yule, Bradford; S. Bucklabd, Farrington; J.G. Sydenham, Shebbear. The Archdeacon of Barnstaple read the Communion Service, except the Epistle, which was taken by Archdeacon Downall, and the former preached an excellent and appropriate sermon from Revelation xxi, 3; at the close of which he returned to the altar and the read the prayer for the Church Militant, concluding the morning service with the Blessing. With the accompaniment of a nice little organ, the choir, joined by the school children and the congregation, sang very effectively the 112nd and the 139th Psalms. The principle part of the visitors then wended back way to Winscott, the new mansion of Mr. Stevens, where they had been invited to partake of of an elegant and substantial collation. From sixty to seventy ladies and gentlemen partook of the hospitality of the worthy host and hostess, among whom besides those already mentioned, were the Hon. Misses Trefusis, Miss Johnson, Miss Pugh, Mrs. C. Guille, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, of Cross, Thomas Fisher, Esq., of Buckland, W. Prine, Esq., S. Sloley, Esq., Mr. Sambourne, Mr. Pridham, &tc; at the close of which a large number took their leave, but many returned to the church for afternoon service, which was again attended by a crowded congregation, comprising a large proportion of of the farmers and families, with the labourers and poor of the parish. Archdeacon Downall preached, from Peter ???, a most eloquent sermon, in the course of which he referred to the late Archdeacon Moore-Stevens - his endowment of the church, his cherished purpose to have rebuilt it, frustrated only by his long and painful illness and death - to that design being now so piously, and with much good heart, accomplished by his son. Nor did the preacher omit a formidable and stirring appeal to all, to strive "that as lively stones they might be built up a spiritual house." The sermon was listened to with an earnestness of attention which gave good hope it would be long remembered. The kindness and hospitality of Mr. Moore-Stevens did not end with the afternoon service. In the morning he had feted the rich, in the evening he did not forget the farmers and poor. Every man, woman and child in the parish was invited to partake of his bounty and good and generous work of the church (for no contributions were allowed to be made) his courtesy and gentle bearing to all - his noble mansion with the open hospitalities, to rich and poor - he saw the Squire of Winscott a personification of

"The fine old English gentleman, one of the olden time"