Plympton St Mary


Some Old Devon Churches

By J. Stabb

London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)

Page 184

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.

PLYMPTON. St. Mary. The church [plate 184a] consists of chancel with priest's door, nave, north and south aisles, north and south chapels opening out of the aisle, south porch, and west tower with eight bells. In the chancel is a trefoil-headed piscina with drain and shelf, and triple sedilia with trefoil heads. The east end of the sanctuary is panelled with marble, the modern carved reredos has panels representing the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the Entombment. The east window is filled with modern stained glass. There is a hagioscope in the chapel at the east end of the south aisle, and in the south wall is an ancient monument with a recumbent figure, it is in memory of Philip Courtenay of Loughtor (now Newnham Park). The figure, much mutilated, is arrayed in plate armour. The front base of the monument has canopied niches with figures, they are in a very bad state of preservation, the monument dates from about 1514. There are some small remains of ancient glass in the upper portion of the east window. The walled-up doorway in the south wall conceals the staircase which led to the rood screen, this, and the marks on the pillars for the attachment of the screen, prove its former existence, but there is nothing remaining now. There are the remains of a piscina placed rather high in the south wall. On the east wall is marble tablet in memory of the Snelling family, sometime of Chaddlewood, with dates from 1622 to 1673. The east window of the north aisle chapel contains in the top lights some remains of ancient glass, bearing the arms of Hill of Shilston on the left, and Hill of Hill's Court, on the right.

On the north side of the chapel is a very fine tomb erected in memory of Richard Strode, of Newnham in this parish, who died in 1464. Beneath a canopy rests a male figure arrayed in plate armour, the hands in the attitude of prayer, the head with long hair rests on a helmet. The front of the tomb has eleven niches with figures of monks holding their rosaries. The centre niche has a representation of the Holy Trinity [plate 184b] The Father with His Hand raised in blessing and holding a crucifix between His knees and a dove at the top of the cross. Mrs. Jameson says in her History of our Lord that this device, known by the name of the Italian Trinity, obtained a strange popularity from the 12th to the 17th century, exhibiting little variety of composition during all those ages. With the exception of a carving on a tomb in Ashwater Church, this is the only carved representation of this device I have met with in a Devonshire church. Other niches contain figures of St. Paul, St. Katherine, the Blessed Virgin and Child, and St. John. At each end of the tomb are pinnacles, each with two niches, these niches contain figures of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, with their usual emblems.

On the north wall of the chapel is the monument of William Strode. In the centre is a kneeling male figure in armour with his hand on his sword; on either side of the centre figure are effigies of females kneeling at a desk; on a panel beneath the left hand figure are half figures of the seven daughters and three sons of Sir William. The two female figures at the desk represent Mary the first wife, who died in 1617, and Dyonisia the second Lady Strode. Underneath the right hand figure is a representation of Death cutting a flower with a sickle, the flower is held by a hand appearing out of a cloud.

Above the central effigy is the inscription:-

"Tread soft, for if you wake this knight alone
You rayse an hoast, Religious champion
His country's staff, right bold distributor,
His neighbour's guard, the poor man's almoner
Who dies with works about him as did hee,
Shall rise attended most triumphantly."

Above the left hand figure are the words:-

"Mary, incarnate virtue soule and skin
Both pure, whom death not life convinced of sin
Had daughters like seven Pleiades but shee
Was a prime star of greatest claritie."

Above the right figure are the lines:-

"Dewnes hath merited no slender prayer
In that she well supplyd the former's dayes
Conceive how good she was whose very worst
Unto the knight was this that she died first."

Beneath the central figure is the inscription:-

Gulielmi Strode, Equitis Aurati
et in isto ordine tandem antiquissimi:
Familia satis clari
Sed Religione integritate morum consilio Justica Publica
Generosa hospitalitate rebus probe et fœliciter gestis longe clarioris
Qui et septem filiarum quinq: nuptarum Equitibus nexu lugati
Et arctiori nexu plurium virtutum
Devoniæ suœ gluten, et Oraculum diu substitit
Is duarum uxorum unanimi fretus consortio,
Mariæ et Dionysiæ
Quare ex altera decem suscepit liberos
ex altera serius solamen dierum et operum satur obdormivit
In gremio terræ matris
cum sorore vermicula, et ultima propinquitate naturæ decumbens
conquerentibus amicis
In te occidit spes omnes et fortuna nostri nominis
donec nominis generisq: discrimen
Communi gloria resurrectionis
et soluis affinitate Christi evanescit
Occidit Junii 27, 1637. Aetate suæ 76.

Patri Gulielmo, matri Mariæ et Dionysiæ quasi matri
Monumentum hoc posuit Gullielmus Strode.

On the third pier from east end of the north aisle is an image niche, and on a line with this pier, in the north wall, a filled-in doorway. The south porch with parvise is worthy of notice. Above the doorway are three canopied niches. The highest of these, above the parvise window, has a representation of the Holy Trinity; the Father is seated with the cross in front, the dove is missing. The lower niches have figures of the Blessed Virgin, and the Angel Gabriel; in the centre between the niches are the remains of a tree with helmet and wreath, the crest of the Strode family.

The roof of the porch has carved bosses, the centre one bearing a representation of the Crucifixion. There are three niches over the inner doorway, but the images are missing. In the south-east corner is a holy water stoup, and the eastern wall has a window which has been filled in.

1460 Thomas Mychett 1772 John Britton
1613 John Cooke 1778 G. Crossman and William Bateman
1624 Alexander Grosse 1783 Philip Mayow
1653 Alexander Pomeroy ? 1801 Thomas Culme
1660 John Searle 1803 William Hayne
1669 Samuel Colepress 1817 William Isaac Coppard
1692 John Stokes 1867 Edward George Hunt
1739 William Goddard 1873 Merton Smith
1768 John Willcocks 1884 Joseph Mercer Cox

This list of vicars is taken from an interesting book on the church written by Rev. Mercer Cox, Vicar.

The registers date from 1603.