SY 08 NW WOODBURY CHURCH STILE LANE, Woodbury
2/84 Parish Church of St Swithun
Parish church. South transept and possibly part of south wall of nave and chancel
C13; largely rebuilt and the tower erected 1407-9 (dedication 1409; Bishop
Stafford's Register); north aisle built by the Haydon family, early C16.
Extensively restored by the incumbant, Rev J L Fulford, especially 1849-52; roofs
replaced and another general restoration 1893. Coursed dressed sandstone; dry
West tower, nave, north aisle, south transept, north-east vestry and organ chamber
(originally the Haydon chantry chapel), chancel, south porch.
Exterior: west tower of 3 stages and plinth; string courses embrace set-back
buttresses each with 3 off-sets; the off-sets have provision for statues which were
never executed. Battlemented parapet with quatrefoil panel to each merlon;
gargoyles; no pinnacles. 2-light belfry openings to each face, pointed with
quatrefoil in head; 2nd stage, south, with two 2-light square-headed bell ringing
chamber windows, one above the other, the upper one breaking the string course
which forms the hood mould (cf the almost exactly contemporary tower at Lympstone
Church, q.v.). 4-light west window, Perpendicular; west doorway, moulded surround
with one order of vine-leaf trails, the hood mould formed by the plinth string
course; door with studded rails could be C16.
South side: west part of nave appears to be early (c.f. chancel; note masonry joint
at extreme west). 3-light C19 Perpendicular window to either side of porch; south
doorway with medieval moulded arch and hood mould; C18 fielded panel double gates
with ramped spiked upper rail. C19 3-light Decorated transept south window and
cusped east lancet; comparatively long chancel, with 2 C19 2-light windows and
medieval priest's door; C19 diagonal angle buttresses; 3-light C19 Decorated east
window with foliated stops.
North side: battlemented; 6 bays, late Perpendicular 4-light windows under
depressed arches, and divided by buttresses with 2 off-sets. Easternmost windows
largely renewed; screen stair turret, C19 east and west windows. North-east
vestry, flat-roofed with parapet that contains some strapwork panels (cf interior,
arcade). Square-headed windows with saddle bars.
Interior: 5-bay north arcade, piers with a late variant of wavy moulding, capitals
with various heads and foliage; depressed arches; strapwork panels above spandrels.
Tower arch, shafts with separate capitals, intrados panelled. South chancel
chantry chapel (now organ chamber) divided from chancel by panelled arch designed
to receive founder's tomb and combined with a squint. C19 adjustments to the east
of this (probably by R M Fulford), along with the north sanctuary wall tomb recess,
create an interesting visual display. Deep window arches to south, mostly rebuilt;
shallow to north aisle, mostly C16.. Evidence of another squint to south of chancel
arch; piscinas (3 in all, (i) south wall of sanctuary, trefoil headed, (ii) south
transept, south wall, square-headed with ribbed canopy (damaged), (iii) nave, south
wall, trefoil headed; note that the church in the later medieval period was held by
the Vicars Choral of Exeter Cathedral which may account for the number of piscinas
formerly serving side chapels).
Roofs: open wagon to north aisle, with bosses, presumably largely early C16; nave
with good hammerbeam roof, 5 bays, 1893; scissor brace chancel roof with ogival
Furnishings: C15 octagonal stone font, quatrefoil to each panel, the muntins
brought down to form the ribs of richly traceried coving and stem. Screen, wooden,
5 bays, with medieval wainscotting and one tier of cornice, but largely remodelled
and altered by Rev J L Fulford. Pulpit: polygonal, Jacobean, panels below,
arcading above. Communion rails: Elizabethan and originally set up on 3 sides of
the altar in 1640 in Laudian fashion, those parts removed now placed around the
font; Corinthian fluted balusters, newels with carved ball finials, strapwork to
rail. 2 bench ends, probably C15, at west end. Some linenfold to choir stalls,
with poppyheads carved by Rev J L Fulford. C18 wainscotting, good early C20
woodwork in the World War I Memorial screen at east end of north aisle.
Miscellanea: royal coat of arms, 1799; hatchments in transepts; charity boards in
Monuments: sanctuary, north wall, in its own recess but originally free standing.
Circa 1610. Effigies of a man and woman, he in ceremonial armour, both with ruffs,
both with animals at their feet; defaced armorial panel. Chest with egg and dart
cornice, 2 plain inscription cartouches to front with Ionic pilasters.
Traditionally believed to come from Nutwell Court chapel. 16 good floor tomb slabs
including one to Sir Henry Pollexfen, d.1691 (Chief Justice of Common Pleas);
George Haydon with good epitaph; and William Martyn (d.1670), with fine lettering.
Chancel, south wall, plaque with architrave to Mary Heathfield, d.1791; north
aisle, north wall, plaque with urn and elegant lettering, to George Barons, d.1794.
Glass: high class C16 fragments in south transept, east window and other pieces in
north aisle. East window by Kempe.
Summary: a good, largely late-medieval church with a fine west tower (1407-9),
containing a varied group of monuments (including an excellent set of floor tomb
slabs), furnishings and fittings, some of high quality.
References: Pevsner, SD, p310. Beatrice Cresswell, Deanery of Aylesbeare, pp280-99
(typescript in West Country Studies Library). Church Guide (anon., n.d.) Devon
C19 Church Project.
Listing NGR: SY0094387191