GITTISHAM GITTISHAM, (north side)
SY 19 NW
7/171 Church of St Michael
Parish church. Possibly C14 origins, south aisle added by Sir Humphrey Beaumont (d.
1572), repaired by the Beaumont family in the 1660s (Hussey), C18 refurbishment,
including box pews and a west gallery, chancel restored in the 1860s under the
direction of the Reverend R. Kirwan (Whites Devon (1878). Unusual in the Diocese in
retaining a nave and nave fittings which predate the Gothic Revival and give the
exterior the slightly haphazard quality of an unrestored church. Flint rubble, the
tower rendered, slate roofs.
Plan: Nave, chancel, 4 bay south arcade with one bay to the chancel, the east end of
the aisle projecting beyond the chancel and filled with monuments of the squires of
Combe; north porch, west tower, west gallery with an external stair at the west end
of the south aisle.
Exterior: Chancel with diagonal buttresses with set-offs and a 3-light C19
Perpendicular traceried east window. On the north side a double-chamfered frame to
the priest's door with a C19 rounded arch and a very renewed 2-light pointed window
with uncusped Y tracery. Buttressed nave with diagonal corner buttresses;
untraceried windows (the mullions presumably C18) with different arches flank the
north porch. The south aisle has diagonal buttresses, 2 massive buttresses with set-
offs to the west and a lean-to boiler room with a stack against the aisle wall. C17
decorated lead gutter and rainwater head at the east end, the rainwater head with the
Beaumont arms probably dating from the late C17 repairs to the aisle, the baluster
pinnacle on the gable probably co-eval. Wide Perpendicular west window of a very
late character. The easternmost window, blocked with hardboard at time of survey
(1987), is 3-light and traceried, then 2 2-light C19 Perpendicular traceried windows,
the westernmost window also untraceried. The west end of the aisle has a flight of
external steps, complete with C18 iron railings up to the gallery entrance which is a
2-leaf C18 panelled door below a 2-light untraceried, presumably C18 window.
Rendered 3-stage battlemented west tower with a large 2 stage projecting stair turret
on the south side with a flat roof. The original entrance to the turret has been cut
off by the gallery steps and a flight of external steps leads through an archway cut
in the tower masonry into the bellringers' chamber. The west door of the tower has
a moulded frame and a rather domestic Gothick door of the early C19, half-glazed with
arched glazing bars; 3-light untraceried west window; 2-light louvred belfry openings
on west, east and north faces. The north face has a clock with a semi-circular
hoodmould. North porch with a moulded outer doorway with a hoodmould; a deeply-
moulded, possibly C14 inner doorway; stone-topped benches and a plastered roof. A
row of probably C18 hat pegs survives.
Interior: Plastered walls; moulded stone chancel arch; double-chamfered tower arch.
Ceiled wagon roofs with carved bosses and moulded ribs; C19 ceiled wagon chancel roof
with painted ribs and bosses and a C19 ceilure. 4-bay arcade with corner shafts to
the piers, foliage-carved capitals and shallow moulded arches. The chancel bay is
deeper with a panelled soffit to the north arch. C19 or early C20 timber drum pulpit
with blind traceried panels and a heavily-carved cornice. C15 octagonal font with
quatrefoils carved on the bowl. There is a distinct contrast between the
archaeologically 'correct' chancel and the unrestored nave. The chancel has good C19
floor tiles and a communion rail with painted standards decorated with leaves.
Circa 1860s poppyhead choir stalls with a slightly different design of stall in the
south chancel chapel which has probably C18 black and white paving. The nave is
filled with probably late C18 box pews with fielded panels. West gallery supported
on an iron post and to left and right with a frontal of fielded panels.
Monuments: An important collection. The most impressive is in the south chancel
aisle, commemorating Thomas Putt, died 1686, the squire who had carried out extensive
improvements at Combe (q.v.), Black, grey and white marble: a large tomb chest with
marble steps, set in a round headed recess with a ribbed soffit and a rusticated
arch. The back of the arch has a white marble pediment on massive consoles with
armorial bearings in the pediment. On the tomb chest, 2 massive white marble urns
decorated with wreaths and bands of oak leaves with gilded flames. Pevsner describes
it as "cold, competent, expensive and metropolitan" (South Devon). It has been
attributed to William Kidwell (Esdaile) and William Stanton (Hussey), Hussey suggests
that the urns could be by Edward Pearce. Against the east wall a monument to Henry
Beaumont of Combe, died 1591, erected by his wife. Alabaster, Purbeck and black
marble with composite columns dividing the main tier into 2 recesses in which
Beaumont and his wife kneel at prayer desks; armorial bearings above, a long verse
and armorial bearings below. On the south wall a late C17 wall tablet in a moulded
frame commemorating John Fiennes Esq., died 1671, with a Latin verse. Adjacent to
this, a white marble wall tablet, signed 'Westminster Marble Company, Earl St, South
West London': commemorating members of the Putt family, earliest date 1825, latest
1857. Next west is a Greek Revival style while marble wall monument to Reymundo
Putt, died 1812.
In the chancel a wall monument to Joane Beaumont, died 1667. The inscription tablet
is surrounded by mantling and framed by Corinthian columns with a skeleton, angel and
armorial bearings above. The inscription includes a verse and original colour
survives on the monument. On the north wall a monument to the Reverend Thomas Putt,
died 1844, in a crested stone frame. On the south wall of the aisle late C19 and one
late C18 monument. Below the gallery and fixed to the west wall an unusual painted
board commemorating John Ousley, died 1744, depicting David harping, flanked by
Royal Arms over the door in a nowy-headed frame. 5 massive Putt family hatchments
hang in the south aisle, dating from the C17, C18 and C19 centuries. These are
described in detail by W.H. Wilkin, 'The Putt Hatchments at Gittisham', Devon and
Cornwall Notes and Queries, vol. 19 (1936-37), p. 300-303.
Stained Glass East window probably designed by Heaton, Butler and Bayne, memorial
date of 1854. The north window in the chancel contains C16 and C17 Flemish fragments
and roundels with early C19 coloured glass and late C19 borders. The east window of
the aisle contains C17 and C20 armorial bearings. The south aisle has 2 C19 windows
(1870s, memorial dates) commemorating members of the Marker family.
An exceptionally interesting church retaining a largely C18 character in the nave and
with a number of good monuments.
Listing NGR: SY1336998365