Some Old Devon Churches
By J. Stabb
London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)
Transcribed and edited by Dr Roger Peters
Full text available at
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.
PINHOE. St. Michael and All Angels. The church [plate 182a] is Perpendicular and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, and embattled west tower with four bells; the first bears a legend in Latin, the next two are dated respectively 1691 and 1655, and the tenor has the admonition "Pres not Thyself." The church was built at the end of the 14th or commencement of the 15th century, was restored in 1880, and will accommodate about 200 people.
The rood screen, which is of the same date as the church, is very perfect, Perpendicular, and consists of eight bays extending across nave and aisle; it retains its groining, and a rich cornice of vine leaves and grapes and in general construction follows the pattern at Kentisbeare. It formerly bore traces of colour, but it has now been cleaned. The pulpit is carved and is of the same date as the screen. The font [plate 182b] is of the style which prevailed in the reign of Edward the Confessor [1042-1066], and is certainly much older than the church; it is a misshapen block of stone scooped out, its only ornament being a rudely carved cable twisted around it, and what seems like ferns, flags or bulrushes. Pinhoe Church has probably served as a landmark for those entering the estuary of the Exe, for, quite recently, the upper portion of the tower was painted white.
Originally it is probable the church was full of ancient oak benches with handsomely carved ends, unhappily only one of these, that immediately below the pulpit, remains. A unique object in the church is a curious statuette, about 2 feet high, representing the parish beadle in the time of Queen Anne [1702-1714]. He holds a staff in his right hand and two books in his left, on the corner of the top of one the words "Ye poor man of Pinhoe 1700" are inscribed. He stands on a strong alms box which is of very recent date [plate 182c]. A point of interest in connection with the church is the pension annually paid to the vicar on October 1st, dating from very early days. Tradition connects it with the Battle of Pinhoe, A.D. 1001. The Danes fought the men of Devon and Somerset on the high ground above the church in that year, and it is related that the parish priest, watching the battle, noticed that his countrymen were short of arrows. Mounting his ass he rode into Exeter and secured a fresh supply and served them out personally to the men, and so turned the tide of conflict in their favour. He was rewarded with a mark from the King's purse. Another account attributes the payment of the pension to the saying of masses for the souls of the slain. In either case the pension is of very early origin.
The registers date from 1561.