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.

TIVERTON. St. Peter. The church [plate 234a] consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, the Greenway Chapel, opening out of the south aisle, south porch, and west tower. The south porch [plate 234b] is richly adorned with carvings on the exterior and the interior. On the corbel line, which runs round the whole of the exterior of the chapel, are carvings representing scenes in the life of our Lord; the exterior of porch and chapel is crowded with carving consisting of ships, woolpacks, staple marks, figures of men, children, horses, etc. The roof of the porch is richly carved, and over the entrance door into the church is a representation of the Adoration of the Virgin, with figures of John and Joan Greenway kneeling at faldstools on either side [plate 234c]. The entrance to the Greenway Chapel is through a doorway on the east side of the porch with a very fine oak door. On the wall of the porch is the following inscription:- This porch erected in MDXVII was taken down and rebuilt in MDCCCXXV. James Somers and Thomas Haydon, Churchwardens.

There was at one time a very fine rood screen in the church, but there is no vestige remaining. On each side of the chancel is a good altar tomb, one being that of John Waldron, merchant of Tiverton, the founder of the almshouses in Wellbrooke, who died in 1579, and the other that of George Slee, merchant. The pillars of the nave have niches for statues of saints, but the images have been removed.

The Greenway Chapel, on the south side of the church, is separated from the aisle by two arches, the centre pier having a double niche. The chapel was erected by John Greenway, a wool merchant of Tiverton, and has the following inscription on the frieze:- John Greenway built this chapel Anno Dom MDXVII, the porch, aisle, and ends of the same, and an almshouse at the east end of the town, for five poor men and women, finished the same 12 years before (his death) and was interred underneath.

In the aisle of this chapel is the brass of John Greenway and his wife, with the inscription:- Pray for John Greenway.

In a canopied niche between the south windows, which must originally have held an image, is an inscription stating that the chapel, having gone to decay, was restored by churchwardens in 1829 from the funds available from John Greenway's charitable bequests.

The west doorway has a square-head with foliage in the spandrels and a niche on each side. The oldest portion of the church is probably the north doorway, which is at latest Norman.

Beneath the outside of the east window of the Greenway Chapel is the inscription:- John Greenway
Founded this chapel A.D. MDXVII
died MDXXIX.

"Whilst we think well and think
t'amend time passeth away
and death's the end."

The altar tomb is in a recess beneath the window.

The registers date from 1560.