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.
SOUTH POOL. St. Nicholas and St. Cyriack. The church [plate 211a] consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, south porch, and west tower containing six bells. It dates from 1318, having been dedicated by Bishop Stapledon on August 24th in that year, after being rebuilt. On the north side of the chancel is a canopied recess, formerly used as an Easter Sepulchre [plate 211b]. On the slab is the recumbent figure of a man arrayed apparently in cassock, surplice, and stole; it represents a former rector of this parish, Thomas Bryant. There is the following inscription:- Hic jacet dno Tomas Briat modo Rector hujus
Ecclesiæ et Portlem (othie)
There is no date on the tomb. Thomas Bryant was rector in 1536. At the back of the tomb there is a carving of the Resurrection, a proof, I think, that this recess was intended to act as an Easter Sepulchre. From its appearance the tomb suggests that at some time it must have been shortened, the letters "othie" of Portlemouth are not there and there is no room for them. The feet of the recumbent figure have been cut off, to make it fit into the reduced canopy, and an Apostle beneath seems to have been removed at the same time. This seems an instance of a former Easter Sepulchre being used as a tomb, not one of those cases in which the tomb was utilised as an Easter Sepulchre.
At the west end of the south aisle is a window formerly opening into the porch, the framework remains, but the opening has been walled up. This window was discovered by the present vicar a few years since during some repairs; it has evidence of having had iron bars both up and down and across. It may have been used as a "leper's squint", or for the handing out of doles of bread, etc. The doles of white bread (under the Leonard Dare Charity) are still continued on the four Quarter Days; when the charity was instituted probably white bread was not common among the poor.
There is an effigy of a lady beneath the window in the south transept, Emma de Cirencester, a former Patroness of the church. There is a rood screen of Perpendicular character to nave and aisles. It is supposed to have been erected in the early part of the 15th century and is said to be the best bit of carving extant of its date; the old staircase to the rood loft remains. The south and north aisle portions of the screen have had the groining restored, in the nave portion it is missing.
There are monuments in the church dating from 1588, piscinas and stoups, and a fine Norman font.
The first vicar on record is Hugh, who was instituted probably previous to 1257 and died in 1284.
The registers date: baptisms, 1664; marriages, 1665; burials, 1664.