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.
SAMPFORD PEVERELL. St. John the Baptist. The church [plate 197] consists of chancel, with priest's door, nave, south aisle, and embattled west tower with six bells. The aisle, which is separated from the nave by five arches, was added to the church by the Countess of Derby and Richmond in 1498. In the porch is the following inscription:- The most noble Margaret Beaufort Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of King Henry the 7th, and founder of St. John's and Christ's Colleges in Cambridge, added at her own cost A.D. 1495, this porch and aisle, to the ancient parish church of Sampford Peverell, being then the Lady of the Manor. Born A.D. 1441. Deceased 1509.
The porch and vestry form a continuation of the aisle. Over the west door is the inscription:- This tower erected 1815 replaces the original one,
built in the Early English style with a spire of wood.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower
the righteous runneth into it and is safe."
The tower is entirely cut off from the church, the arch having been walled up, and an organ placed in front of it. There are two entrances to the church, a door at the west end of the aisle opening from the porch, and a north door from the nave. In the chancel there are double piscina on the south side, and a double arched recess on the north side. Within the altar rails, on the north side, is the mutilated effigy of a crusader who was found buried in the church, the legs below the knees are missing. It is supposed to represent one of the Peverells, the ancient Lords of the Manor "which began to inhabit in this shire in the days of Henry I [1100-1135]. In the 8th Henry the II (1162) he lived William Peverell who successively followed, Sir Hugh, Richard, William, Hugh, and Hugh."
On the north side of the east window is a mural monument, with the frame of which is enclosed a brass plate, on which are engraved the figures of a lady in ruff and flowing dress, with her hands in the attitude of prayer, kneeling before a prie-dieu; behind her are three female figures, and in front four male figures; there is the following inscription:- In obitvm pientissimæ heroniæ d:
Margeretæ Povlett conjvgis damiæ
Pvylett eqvitis avrati epicedivm
Felix prole parens, felix et sponsa marito
Margereta fvi dvm svperesse datvm
--contigerant qvæ-m-potuere beare
omnia vir soholes stripes generosa decor
fvndvs opes tvmvlvmq grege domvs hospiter egenis
magnificvsq animvs munificæq manvs
his dotata bonis popvloq dilecta deoq
vixi et qvam sortem fata dedere tvli
nunc moriens animam domino cvi servit vni
reddidi et hoc tvmvlo corpus inane jacet.
-------- Franciscvs Vincent Miles et Georgivs Povlett
armiter gilii et execvtores dominæ Marga
retæ Povlett defunctæ xxviii die Maii 1602
hoc monvmentvm posvervnt in obseqvinm et
grati animi testimonivm.
On a brass plate by the aisle is the following description:- The adjoining monument erected to the pious and beloved memory of the Lady Margaret Poulett, who was interred in this church A.D. 1606, daughter and heir of Anthony Harvey Esq, and widow of the celebrated Sir Amies Poulett, Knight, Ambassador from Queen Elizabeth to France, and principal keeper of Mary Queen of Scots during her captivity in England, was erected by her descendant the Right Honble John 5th Earl Poulett, Viscount Hinton and Baron Poulett of Hinton St. George, Somersetshire, in whose family the ancient manor and church of Samford remained from the says of King Henry the 8th to the 55th of the reign of King George the 3rd.
Near the pulpit is a brass with the inscription:- Near this spot rests in death the body of Sir Hugh Peverell, Knight, the munificent founder of this church about the year of our Lord 1200 together with the bodies of three other members of the ancient and honourable family of Peverell, former Lords of this Manor. In A.D. 1863 their remains were discovered during the restoration of the nave, after an interment of 600 years, and reverently replaced in the same graves by the Revd. George W, R, Ireland. M.A. P.H.D. Rector of this parish, who caused this tablet to be affixed A.D. 1865.
On the north wall is a tablet with the inscription:- In ye chancel lies ye Body of ye pious Mrs Margaret Collins wife of ye Revd Thomas Collins sometime Rector of this parish, and grandchild of ye Right Revd Thomas Cotton, Lord Bishop of Exon, who deceased ye 1st day of June A.D. 1655.
On another plate is the following inscription:- The nave and aisle having fallen into grievous decay was completely restored, reseated, and the north wall rebuilt in strict conformity with the original in the years 1863 & 64.
West of the north door there is a curious recess in the wall, not large enough for a piscina, and unlikely from its position to have been one; it may have held an image. A brass plate on the wall at the east end of the aisle has the inscription:-- Beneath this spot rest in Death the bodies of Mary Crudge, who died July 15th 1795, and other members of the Crudge family.
The Norman font has been restored; it has a band of carving round the rim, another round the base of the bowl, and cable moulding round the base of the shaft.
In the churchyard, near the west door, is a fine old tree with a hollow trunk, this is said to have been used in smuggling times [ca. 1700-1825] for the storage of contraband goods.
The registers date: baptisms, 1672; marriages, 1674; burials, 1674.