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.
WILLAND. St. Mary. The church is of 14th century date and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, and west tower with a clock and three bells.
There is a very fine rood screen [plate 255] of the square-headed type, the rood loft is carried on a horizontal coving, and here we get an example of what the screens were like at Braunton, Stoke-in-Teignhead, Bow, and East Budleigh before the lofts were removed. They were never intended to have groining like the majority of the Devonshire screens. The effect must have been decidedly top-heavy, and not so pleasing as the light and graceful screens at Kentisbeare, Atherington, and elsewhere, with the beautifully carved fan tracery and elaborately enriched cornices. There is a good deal of the ancient colour and gilding remaining. The ornamentation of the cornice with vine leaves is very good.
The interior of the church was thoroughly restored in 1906, when the carved oak reredos was placed behind the altar; the centre panel is carved with lilies, on one side panel, corn with words "I am the Bread of Life", and on the other side a vine with the words "I am the True Vine". The east window, representing the three Marys, is a memorial to the wife of the Rev. W. C. Coplestone, a former rector.
The registers date: baptisms, 1670; marriages, 1670; burials, 1671.