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.
STAVERTON. St. Paul de Leon. The present church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch with parvise approached by a broad staircase, and west tower, 70 feet 5 inches high, containing a fine peal of six bells; the 1st, 3rd, and 4th of which were cast in 1761 by Thomas Bilbie, the 2nd and 6th were recast in 1856, the 5th dates from 1798.
It is probable that there was formerly a Norman church on the site, as there is part of a Norman arch on the western side of the churchyard, composed of red sandstone, and stones of the same composition have been built into various parts of the church. The first mention of Staverton Church is on March 25th 1148, when it was given to the Chapter by Robert, Bishop of Exeter [elected 1138].
In 1881 the dilapidated waggon roof was replaced by one of pitch pine [Pinus rigida]. The stone work of the east and north chancel windows, also that of the east window of the north aisle, was renewed in 1869, and at the same time the piscina was moved twelve feet to the west, and in its place a recess formed, now used as a credence. There were formerly chapels at the east end of the north and south aisles, the latter dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; the piscina still remains in the south wall; the north chapel is now used as an organ chamber. For many years it was known as the "Worth Chapel", and on the north wall is a prie-dieu monument, dating 1629 belonging to the Worth family, who are known to have been residing in Devonshire in the time of Henry II [1154-1189]; the entrance to the rood loft is from this chapel.
The rood screen extends across the nave and aisles and is 56 feet 7 inches in length [plates 214a and 214b]. In 1897 it was found that the beautiful 15th century carving of the screen - in fact the greater part of the screen - was in a very dilapidated condition, and it was decided to restore it, and to add a gallery front, the original one having gone the way of so many others, which were destroyed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth [1558-1603] by order of Archbishop Parker [elected 1559]. There were sufficient remains of the old gallery in existence to determine the height, but not enough to enable the original design to be reproduced, so the screen in the north aisle at Atherington was taken as a pattern for the new gallery.
The parclose screens of 15th century date are in very good condition.
The first vicar recorded is Walter de Teignmue, September 12th 1269.
The registers date from 1614.