SX 77 SE
23.8.55 Church of St Mary the Virgin
Parish church. C15 with early C16 north aisle, late C19 south porch and vestry,
and late C19 or early C20 boiler house. C14 window, probably re-used, in tower.
Church was thoroughly restored in 1883-4; south wall, south porch, and east and
west gables of north aisle rebuilt. Architects for restoration were Ewan Christian
of London for the chancel and Robert Medley Fulford of Exeter for the remainder.
Devonian limestone, with granite detail for the medieval work and Ham Hill stone
for the added 1883-4 detail. Slated roofs. Nave, chancel, north aisle, west tower
and south porch; vestry at east end of north aisle and boiler house at west end.
South wall of nave and chancel has 4 Perpendicular 3-light windows, which appear to
be the originals reset, though with some detail replaced in newer granite; this
applies to most of the mullions in the 2 middle windows and to much of the head-
tracery of the left-hand window of the pair. The 2 end windows are taller than
those in the middle, and have pointed rather than ogee heads to the lights.
Between the 2 right-hand windows is a priest's door with a 2-centred arch having
ogee, threequarter round and hollow mouldings, together with sunk spandrels;
straight hood-mould above. Between the 2 middle windows is an ornate Gothic
buttress of Ham Hill stone, added in 1883-4. Under tile eaves is a hollow-moulded
granite corbel table. The east gable has kneelers and a stone coping, all but one
kneeler-stone on the south side having been restored. Perpendicular east window of
3 lights, matching the outer windows in the south wall. North aisle has 3 windows,
all of 3 lights with straight hood-moulds. The 2 eastern windows have Tudor-arched
lights with sunk spandrels; the western window is closely similar, except that the
arches are segmental. Just to the left of this window is a straight joint,
suggesting that the aisle was extended westwards in the early or mid C16. The
mullions in all 3 windows have been renewed. Between the 2 eastern windows is a
rather crude 5-sided stair turret to the rood loft; it overlaps the hood-mould of
the window to the east and looks like a later addition. It has a slit window and
an inserted door of late C19 or early C20. East and west walls of the aisle were
rebuilt in 1883-4 and each has a traceried window of that date. The part of the
north wall of chancel not overlapped by the aisle has a corbel-table matching that
on the south side. Tapered 2-stage tower with 5-sided stair turret on the south.
Lower stage has chamfered plinth. In west face is a lightly-moulded round-arched
doorway with pyramid stops, set in a moulded rectangular frame; late C19 door with
ornate wrought-iron strap-hinges. Above the doorway is a 3-light window with
intersecting tracery. The lower stage is finished with a moulded stringcourse,
just above which in the east face is a single-light window with a pointed arch.
The belfry openings are also pointed, 2 to each face and paired, except in the
south face where they flank the stair turret and have almost rounded arches with
straight hood-moulds. Stair turret has 5 slit windows, the 3 lowest with pointed
arches. Tower is finished with a stringcourse and crenellated parapet; pinnacle on
each corner renewed in 1883-4. South porch, rebuilt in 1833-4, has heavy angle-
buttresses. Its doorway is ogee-headed, culminating in a finial which also forms
the base of a niche (empty) in the gable. Vestry, added in 1883-4, has a 3-sided
angle turret with ogee-headed windows; above it, against east wall of aisle, rises
a buttressed chimney with gabled cap.
Interior: north arcade has 4 pointed, double-chamfered arches on octagonal piers
with chamfered caps. The piers of the 2 eastern arches (which are probably earlier
than the rest) have hollowed faces. Tower arch is rounded with chamfered imposts.
Doorway at foot of tower stairs is of chamfered granite with pointed arch and
pyramid stops. On north wall of north aisle is a painted red and black panel
flanked with C-scrolls, probably of late C17 or early C18. On it is inscribed:
"How amiable are thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of hosts. My soul longeth yea even
fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh crieth out for the
living God. Psalm 84.1.2" Nave, chancel and north aisle have wagon roofs of
probably early C16 character, although much restored in 1883-4; chancel roof is
said to have been wholly rebuilt. Roofs have moulded ribs with carved bosses at
the intersections. Nave and chancel have cornices of intertwined vine leaves,
against which are set angels, holding shields, one at the foot of each arch-brace.
In the chancel the angels' wings are unfurled, while at the west end of the nave
one angel on each side seems to be on the point of unfurling his wings. The north
aisle has part of a similar cornice at the west end, but without angels.
Fittings: octagonal granite font, probably of C15 or early C16, with plain plinth,
shaft and bowl. Flat-topped C17 wooden cover with handle on top resembling a
turned baluster, sides carved with fruit, serpents and winged cherub-heads; this
was restored in 1883-4 by Harry Hems of Exeter. Before the restoration the font
stood in the north arcade, facing the south door. Chancel stalls, altar table,
lectern and credence table also by Harry Hems; the stalls incorporate 6 old
linenfold panels. Bellframe replaced in 1960.
Monuments: on east wall of chancel, to right of window, a stone tablet of 1689,
surrounded by C-scrolls and with a coat-of-arms on top; traces of red, black and
gold paint. Several good C17 tomb slabs on floor of chancel and north aisle.
Sources: Exeter Flying Post, 11.6.1984. Information from the sexton, Mr R Laskey.
Listing NGR: SX7996672681