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.
UGBOROUGH. St. Peter. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, transepts, north and south porches, and embattled west tower with clock and eight bells. The nave and aisles were erected in 1323, and the church was re-consecrated in that year. The chancel was erected in 1420, and the tower in 1520. The rood screen dates from the 15th century, but the chancel portion has been cut down to the sill level; the aisle portions have had the groining removed and pieces of cornice fastened on the spandrels between the bays. The south parclose screen [plate 242a] is a fine piece of carving of later date than the rood screen, there is also a north parclose of inferior workmanship.
There is a fine series of 32 painted panels representing the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, and a series of female figures which have been described by the Rev. S. Baring-Gould and Mr. Bligh Bond as Sibyls [ancient Greek prophetesses]; this is, I believe, incorrect, a careful inspection will show that each of these figures carries some emblem of the Passion. Mr. Keyser gives the following list:-
NORTH.:- St. Apollonia, St. Margaret, the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Magi, the Blessed Virgin, two angels, St. John the Baptist, St. Sebastian, and a doubtful subject.
SOUTH.:- Twelve female figures bearing the emblems of the Passion (? Sybils), St. Agnes, St. Agatha, an executioner and the daughter of Herodias, part of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.
The martyrdom of St. Sebastian is curious [plate 242b] the archers are arrayed in trunk hose, and the painting was done about the time of Elizabeth [1558-1603].
The Norman font in this church [plate 242c] has a rather peculiar feature, the carving is only on one portion of the bowl, the remainder being plain. This is accounted for by the fact that the font, which now stands at the west end of the nave, at one time stood against a pillar, so that the carved part was protected from the hands of the despoilers who ruthlessly destroyed all they could reach: when the font was removed the plaster was cleared out of the carved portion remaining, and it is now as fresh as if it had just left the workman's hands. When one sees so much destruction of beautiful objects in our churches, one is at a loss to find a reason for it. One could understand, while not approving, the destruction of a crucifix or an image of the Blessed Virgin, from the point of view of those who committed the destruction, but in a case like this, when there are no figures or religious symbols of any kind in the carving, there is no excuse to be found for such wanton damage.
The registers date: baptisms, 1538; marriages, 1538; burials, 1542.