Church Of St Michael

20 Jun 2006
Church Of St Michael, Draydown Hill, Spreyton, West Devon, Devon, EX17 5AL
Photograph (Digital)
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This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.


1/264 Church of St Michael 22.2.67


Small parish church. Norman origins. However present church is all C15, much of it a major rebuild dated 1451, thoroughly renovated in the late C19. The tower and north aisle are built of massive blocks of coursed granite ashlar, the nave and chancel apparently much rebuilt in C19 with local stone rubble with granite ashlar quoins; granite ashlar detail; slate roof.

Plan: nave with slightly narrower and lower chancel on a marginally different axis.

North aisle with east end chapel is not quite full length. West tower with internal stair in north-west corner. South porch.

Exterior: tall landmark west tower of 3 stages with set back buttresses and embattled parapet with corner pinnacles. It has 2-light belfry windows and on the west side a round-headed doorway with moulded surround and a window above missing its 2 mullions and tracery. South side of nave has a small gabled porch (probably C19) with plain outer arch towards the left end, and to right a single square-headed 4-light window with round-headed lights, sunken spandrels and hoodmould; this one is a C19 replacement. The chancel has 2 original similar 2-light windows with cusped heads and there is a much restored 3-light window in the east end. Priests doorway in south side is a tiny 2-centred arch. The north aisle has 3 similar much-restored windows and another with pointed head with Perpendicular tracery at the east end.

It has corner diagonal buttresses and break between aisle and chapel marked by a semi-hexagonal rood stair turret. A straight join suggests that the chapel is an addition, probably of 1451.

Interior: south doorway has probably C19. It is a chamfered segemental-headed arch but contains an ancient studded plank door with original ferramenta and oak lock housing.

Best feature of the church are the roofs. All are C15. Nave has a ceiled wagon roof with moulded purlins and ribs, carved oak bosses and a moulded wall plate enriched with 4-leaf motifs. Aisle has a similar ceiled wagon roof except that here the wall plates are carved with fruiting vines. The chancel wagon roof is now open.

Here the ribs and purlins are hollow-chamfered enriched with 4-leaf motifs and the large oak bosses are naively but charmingly carved and feature the tinners hares, the green man and sacred monograms. The wall plate is similarly carved with foliage and vines. However the remarkable feature here is the Latin quotations carved on the ribs and purlins. It records the names of Henry Le Maygne, vicar, "a native of Normandy who caused me to be built AD 1451" and "wrote this with own hand" and Robert of Rouen of Becedden, Prior of Cowick, near Exeter, and Richard Talbot, Lord of Spreyton, who "gave their goods to my building".

Tall plain tower arch. Apart from the change in roof levels there is no break between nave and chancel. The rood stair in the north aisle is intact and has plain-granite doorways. 5-bay arcade of monolithic granite piers moulded (Pevsner's type A) with plain caps to the arcade only. The 4th arch (from nave to chancel) is much narrower than the rest and its arch is lop-sided. The 5th arch is wider and lower than the rest. Either it was built like this to accommodate the lower chancel roof or it is 2 phases. The walls are plastered and the nave and chancel includes some C18 or early C19 fielded-panel wainscotting. Many of the window embrasures have oak lintels. The floor is made up mostly of stone flags. The earliest are small and square; they are the same size as encaustic tiles and some probably C15 or C16 tiles are included amongst them. The floor also includes some graveslabs; most are C17 and C18 but a couple in the north aisle maybe medieval. C15 piscina in sanctuary.

The altar comprises an enormous slab of granite ashlar of indeterminate date resting on an C20 oak table. The altar rail, stalls and low chancel screen which incorporates the pulpit are built of oak in Gothic style. Plain pine lectern and oak prayer desk. The benches are oak in C16 style with carved wreathed foliage around the bench ends. Gothic style tower screen. All this furniture is late C19 or early C20. The remains of a richly carved oak doorway from the former rood screen with delicate Perpendicular tracery is preserved at the back of the church.

Good late Norman granite font with octagonal bowl, each side carved with simple geometric patterns and octagonal stem, each side carved with crude representations nevertheless recognisable for instance as the Tree of Life, Mortality, Our lady crowned etc. An apparently earlier crudely-finished circular font bowl in the north aisle.

Monuments: the mural monuments are C18 and C19. The best is in the chancel and dated 1763 in memory of Thomas Hoare (d. 1746) and his wife Agnes (d.1763). Another good one in the north aisle in memory of John Cam of Fuidge (d. 1767). Painted royal aims of George III on a board in the north aisle and a painted charity board dated 1825 over the south doorway. East window has C19 glass.

Listing NGR: SX6973796724


This is part of the Series: IOE01/0632 IOE Records taken by Derek Dukes; within the Collection: IOE01 Images Of England


© Mr Derek Dukes. Source: Historic England Archive

This photograph was taken for the Images of England project

People & Organisations

Photographer: Dukes, Derek

Rights Holder: Dukes, Derek


Ashlar, Granite, Rubble, Slate, Stone, Timber, Medieval Parish Church, Tudor Religious Ritual And Funerary, Church, Place Of Worship, Chapel