St Marychurch


"ST. MARYCHURCH, a handsome village and picturesque parish, with many neat mansions and marine cottages, overlooking Babbicombe Bay, may be considered as a suburb of Torquay, being from only one to two miles north of that "queen of watering places." The parish had 1688 inhabitants in 1841, but it has now more than 2000, about 100 houses having been built here in the last seven years. It comprises 2589A. 2R. 35P. of land, including the hamlets of Babbicombe, Barton, Combe-Pafford, Edginswell, and Collaton-Shiphay, all situated near the bold and rugged rocky cliffs of the southern recess of Babbicombe Bay, . . . Here are two good inns, and on the beach are two bathing machines, about 20 fishing boats, two yachts, and a coast guard station. A little south of Babbicombe is Kent's Hole, a large cavern, which has been explored about 600 feet, to the point where water prevents any further ingress. . . . The Church (St. Mary,) is a large ancient structure, with a tower and four bells, and stands on a bold eminence. . . . The Rev. W. Maskell, M.A., is the incumbent, and has a good residence, but only an acre of glebe. . . . " [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

A parish in Haytor Hundred, and a Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. (In general, information about Torquay is to be found in the Tormoham pages.)



The Man They Couldn't Hang - an extensive web-site (archived copy) devoted to the case of John "Babbacomb" Lee. Terry Leaman's Babbacombe Beach & the Glen - John Lee concerns the setting of this tragic case, and some further details are given in The Story of the Lee Family of Abbotskerswell - by Alan Elliott.

Brooking-Rowe, J. (Ed.) Rt. Rev. William Robert Brownlow, D.D. [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. XXXIV, (1902), pp. 33-34. [Transcript]

Harpley, W. (ed.) William John Potts Chatto [Obituary]. Trans. Devon Assoc., 1882, Vol XIV, p. 118. [Transcript]

Harpley, W. (ed.) George Henry White [Obituary]. Trans. Devon Assoc., 1889, Vol XXI, p.72.. [Transcript]

Holgate, Mike. The secret of the Babbacombe murder: the mysterious case of John Lee, "the man they could not hang". Newton Abbot: Peninsula Press (1995) 64p: ill, ports. [ISBN 1872640346]

Jay, Allison. Links to a Notorious Murderer, Devon Family Historian, no. 125, (Feb 2008) p.4. [Kate Parish (née Farmer) - John 'Babbacombe' Lee's girlfriend.]

Lee, John. "Babbacombe" Lee: the man they could not hang: the life story of John Lee told by himself. Byfleet: Musikfolk (1992) [2], 85p: ill. [ISBN 0951990608]

Lindsay, Jean. Jubal Bennett 1841-1899, Devon Family Historian, vol. 127, (2008) pp.14-19. [Detailed account of his life and service in the Royal Navy.]

Lindsay, Jean. In Memory of Private Christopher George Hopkins, Family Tree Magazine, vol. 25, no. 10, (2009) pp.58-61. [The story of Gertrude Louise ("Bill") Benett, of St Marychurch (b. 10 Jun 1891 to Jubal and Mary Bennett), and her husband Christopher Hopkins, b. Ashton-on-Trent, who died in the Battle of the Somme.]

Shutte, Reginald N. A memoir of the late Rev. Henry Newland M.A, vicar of St. Marychurch. London: Joseph Masters (1861) [Westcountry Studies Library - s920/NEW]

Woollcombe, G D. Sir Thomas Louis, bt., Knight of Maria Theresa and Knight of Ferdinand in Sicily, rear-admiral of the white squadron [d. 1807]. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 64 (1932).



MIs for this parish are included in the Devon FHS index - see under Cemeteries on the main Devon page.

Leathers, H.A. Memorial Inscriptions: St Mary the Virgin Church, Church St., Marychurch, Torquay, (1975) [Devon FHS Library 929.5]



Summary transcription of the 1861 census, by Terry Leaman (who can supply individual full items on request).


Church History

Torquay St Marychurch - from J. Stabb. Some Old Devon Churches (London: 1908-16).

Old Picture Postcard photograph of St Mary Church, Torquay, provided by Adrienne Richards.

Brownlow, The Rt. Monsignor. A Visitation of St Mary Church in A.D. 1301. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 1893, Vol XXV, pp.431-448. [Index]

Everett, A W. The Monastic Barn at Shiphay, Torquay. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 97 (1965) pp.157-60.

Kelland, John). Shiphay Collaton - its church, its times, its people, (1997). [DFHS p.942.35/TOR]

Woodford, Ian. The parish chuch of All Saints, Babbacombe, Babbacombe, The Author (1992) 16 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library p726.5/BAB/WOO]

The eternal years: St. Andrew's Methodist church, Shiphay, Torquay 1936-1957, [Torquay], [The Church] (1957) 24p. [Westcountry Studies Library p287.1/TOR/ETE]

Victoria Park Methodist Church, St. Marychurch Road, Torquay: centenary souvenir brochure, 1864-1964, [Torquay], [The Church] (1964) 12p. [Westcountry Studies Library p287.1/TOR/VIC]

Saint Mary the Virgin: the parish church of St Marychurch. Gloucester: British Publishing Co.,1974, 21 pp. ill. ISBN: 0714012440


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1641 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Terry Leaman offers lookups for St Marychurch baptisms, 1813-1837.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Baptisms 1813-1840, Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837 - for details see their Devon Parish List.

The members' area of the Devon FHS website makes available online images, not at present (Jan 2016) available elsewhere, of the Parish Registers covering Torquay, Torwood Holy Trinity Baptisms: 1896-1912, Marriages: 1896-1915, Torquay St. Mark Baptisms: 1857-1882, Baptisms: 1882-1915, Marriages: 1857-1912, Marriages: 1912-1915, Banns: 1888-1915, and Torquay St. Matthias Marriages: 1877-1915.

Other churches and chapels (with pre-1840 records):

  • Wesleyan Chapel, St Marychurch: Registers c1811-37 - see Brixham, Teignmouth, in PRO RG 4/842, 1220

Nothing entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993).

Deanery of Ipplepen: Photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Devonshire Directory 1850. CD - Devon FHS (2012). [An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of: Abbotskerswell Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1756-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Berry Pomeroy Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Brixham All Saints Baptisms (1826-1839), Marriages (1826-1837), Burials (1831-1832); Brixham St Mary Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Broadhempston Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1681-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Churston Ferrers Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1835), Burials (1800-1837); Cockington Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1780-1834); Coffinswell Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1857); Denbury Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837); Ipplepen Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1843), Burials (1813-1837); Kingskerswell Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Kingswear Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1755-1837), Burials (1780-1837); Littlehempston Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1731-1837), Burials (1813-1840); Marldon Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Paignton Baptisms (1813-1841), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Paignton Independent Burials (1826-1836); Staverton Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Stoke Gabriel Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Torbryan Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1838), Burials (1813-1854); Tormohun Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Torquay St Marychurch Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Wolborough Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1839), Burials (1813-1837); Woodland Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1755-1835), Burials (1813-1838).]


Description & Travel

Section on St Marychurch  from Samuel Lewis: A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831), provided by Mel Lockie.

Babbacombe Cliff Railway, by Terry Leaman.

Thomas, W. Eliot. Holiday guide to St. Marychurch & Babbacombe, St. Marychurch, (1900) 32p: ill, map. [Westcountry Studies Library pB/ST.M 1/1900/THO]

A pictorial and descriptive guide to Torquay, Paignton, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Totnes and other South Devon resorts (14th ed), London, Ward, Lock & Co. (1934) xxxii, 132p, 48pls: maps. [Westcountry Studies Library B/TOR 7/1934/PIC]

You can see pictures of St Marychurch which are provided by:



Description, Residents and Tradesmen list transcribed from "Billings Directory and Gazetteer of Devon 1857" by Terry Leaman.



The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.



This is one of the growing number of places for which the Devon Heritage website provides census or parish register transcriptions, articles, and/or illustrations, etc.

Bartlett, W. Pedigree of the family of Bartlett of St. Mary Church, Devon (1890) [Westcountry Studies Library - s929.2/BAR]

Bartlett, William, comp, Papers on the subject of St. Mary Church, in the county of Devon, read . . . by Canon Brownlow. . . together with pedigrees, wills and administrations of the family of Bartlett of St. Mary Church, and of Marldon and Teignmouth in the same county and notes on that and the Salter families, bookplates, &c. [ ]: [the compiler?], 1899? Includes reprinted papers from Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1886-98, together with much other material on the Bartlett and Salter families.

Gilding, B.L.F. The Gilding Family Story [of St Marychurch, and Australia], (1997) [DFHS 929.2/GIL]

Lockett, Sylvia. Watcombe Pottery, Devon Family Historian, vol. 181, (2022) pp.21. [Vanstone family]

Stone, Tim. Members Query: Henry & Louisa Huxham, lost?, Devon Family Historian, vol. 163, (2017) p.20.

Worthy, C. Devonshire Parishes: or the antiquities, heraldry and family history of twenty-eight parishes in the archdeaconry of Totnes (2 vols), Exeter, W. Pollard (1887). [Chap. XXVIII: St. Mary Church - FORD of Ashburton and Bagtor; manor of Ilsham; BARTLETT; KITSON; Avis de DOL; COURTENAY] [Index]

The Bartlett Family of South Devon plus a Brief History of St Marychurch. CD015, Devon Family History Society (2008). [Facsimile] [Details]



Barnes, R.H. History of St. Mary-church and Coffinswell, previous to the reign of Henry VII. Torquay: Henry Poulson (1864) 49p. [Westcountry Studies Library - B/ST.M/0001/BAR]

Bridges, M. Babbicombe, or visions of memory. (1842) [Westcountry Studies Library, Torquay Library]

Brownlow, Very Rev Canon. Notes on the Early History of St Marychurch. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 18, (1886) pp. 149-160. [Index]

Brownlow, Very Rev Canon. Land and Labour in St Marychurch in Saxon Times. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 18 (1886), map, pp. 429-441. [Index]

Brownlow, Very Rev Canon W.R.B. St Marychurch in Saxon and Norman Times, Plymouth, W. Brendon & Son (1886). [Bound together with Pedigree of the Family of Bartlett of Marldon, Co. Devon by William Bartlett, under the title Papers on the Subject of St Mary Church in the County of Devon, by by W.P.W. Phillimore, 1899] [Index]

Edmonds, F. S. (Francis Samuel) Chronicles of St. Mary Church: with notes on Babbacombe, Ilsham, Shiphay Collaton, Kingskerswell and Coffinswell. St. Mary Church, Torquay: Charles G. Jowitt: Caxton Press,1925, 66 pp., 4 leaves of plates ; ill.

Kelland, John (comp.). Shiphay Collection, J.W. Kelland, 26 Shiphay Ave., Torquay, TQ2 7EA (n.d.).

Pateman, Leslie Lownds. Pictorial and historical survey of Babbacombe and St. Marychurch to commemorate its golden jubilee 1930-1980. Babbacombe: Trad.& Hoteliers Soc. [1980] 216p: ill, map, plates. [Westcountry Studies Library - sB/TOR 7/0001/PAT] [Index to Vol 1] [Index to Vol 2 (A-J)] [Index to Vol 2 (K-Z)]

Pateman, Leslie Lownds. Pictorial and historical survey of Babbacombe and St. Marychurch Torquay. Vol. 2. Babbacombe & St. M Traders Assn (1992) 435p: ill, maps. [Westcountry Studies Library - sxB/TOR 7/0001/PAT]

Pengelly, W. On the Alleged Occurrence of Hippopotamus Major and Machairodus Latidens in Kent's Cavern, Torquay. Trans. Devon Assoc. 3 (1869), Plymouth: W Brendan & Son, pp 483-494. [Index]

Perkins, J.W. All Saints' Church, Babbacombe and its Parish. (c 1958) [Torquay Library]

Pike, John R. Built on a hill: notes on the parish of St. Marychurch. Torquay: Torbay Library Serv. (1971) 8p. [Westcountry Studies Library - sxB/ST.M/0001/PIK]

Stirling, D. M. A History of Newton-Abbot and Newton-Bushel, and also illustrations ... of the neighbourhood, including Teignmouth, Torquay and Chudleigh. pp. xi. 179. W. Forord: Newton-Abbot, 1830. 8o. BL 10352.a.37.

Walker, Hilda H. The later years of Shiphay Collaton, Torquay. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 98, (1966) pp.349-369, plates: ill, map.

Worthy, Charles. Devonshire Parishes. Exeter: William Pollard (1887) - Vol. 2, pp. 355- 376.

Snapshots of Babbicombe & St. Marychurch. St. Marychurch: B.W.Barr [1900] 9p of ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/BAB/1900/SNA]


Land & Property

Watcombe Park Conservation Area Character Appraisal, from Torbay Council.

Tudor, Geoffrey. Brunel's Hidden Kingdom: The Full Story of the Estate He Created and His Planned House at Watcombe, Torquay. Creative Media Publishing (200) 160 pp. [ISBN: 978-0-9546071-2-8]



View a map of the boundaries of this town/parish.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX918659 (Lat/Lon: 50.482894, -3.526435), St Marychurch which are provided by:


Merchant Marine

Shipping Photos, by Terry Leaman.


Military History

Listing of Torquay's World War II Dead, mainly taken from additions to the Torquay WWI memorial, and on the St Marychurch World War I Memorial.


Names, Personal

Protestation Return of 1641/42 from Devon Heritage.

Torquay St Marychurch contributors to a 1678 brief for the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral.