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.
SOUTH MILTON. All Saints. The church [plate 210a] is Early Perpendicular, and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south transept, south porch, and embattled west tower with six bells. The rood screen dates from the 15th century, the groining is missing, but the screen is in a good state of preservation. The spandrels have not, as is usually the case, been filled with old carving, but are plainly boarded. On the lower panels are paintings representing Apostles [plate 210b], in the chancel, and saints, in the aisle. There is a north parclose screen of good design with tracery, almost Geometric Decorated in character. The ancient staircase to the rood loft remains, and there are three piscinas in the church. There is a hagioscope between the south transept and chancel.
There is a very richly carved font supposed to be of Saxon date [plate 210c], it has cable moulding round the base of the bowl, and there are figures of animals round the edge. There is a very curious figure of a woman bending backwards in an accordion-pleated skirt as if in the act of turning a somersault. This figure is also to be found on the font at St. Mary Church, and is, I think, meant to represent one of the vanities of the world to be renounced in baptism, for reasons which will be given in the description of that church. There are also carved faces, one of which is supposed to represent an evil spirit with the face of a Dane. This font is one of those said to be of Saxon date, but it seems doubtful if there are any fonts of so early a period in Devonshire; it is much more probable that this is of Early Norman date.
The registers date: baptisms, 1686; marriages, 1735; burials, 1686.