SS 90 NW BICKLEIGH BICKLEIGH
5/19 Church of St Mary
Parish church. C12 font ; fabric of tower difficult to date but both Cresswell and
Pevsner suggest the C13 ; C15 south aisle ; the fabric of the nave, chancel and aisle
thoroughly rebuilt in 1848 but the nave and chancel are probably C13 in origin.
Snecked volcanic trap with C19 Bathstone dressings, the west tower masonry of large
dimensions ; fishscale tiles to the roof, Roman tiles to the vestry.
Plan: The site slopes sharply down to the west and the sill of the east window is
close to the level of the ground of the Churchyard. Plan of nave, chancel, 4-bay
south aisle, west tower, north-east vestry, south porch. Descriptions of the Church
before the 1848 restoration indicate that the fabric of nave and chancel were C13
Early English and the tower may be co-eval. South aisle added in the Perpendicular
style in the C15. In 1847 the Church was described as in "a decayed state"
(Cresswell) and in 1848 most of the fabric appears to have been rebuilt with
Decorated tracery and good details (e.g. the buttresses). The manor of Bickleigh
belonged to the Carew family for a long period and there are a number of Carew
monuments in the Church.
The chancel fabric appears to be wholly of 1848 with coped gable angle buttresses and
a 3-light Decorated style east window with a hoodmould and carved label stops. 1-
light trefoil-headed south window ; C19 gabled vestry on the north side with a north
end stack with a stone shaft. The east window of the vestry is square-headed with 2
cusped lights ; west doorway with a segmental double-chamfered arch. Below the
ground level of the Churchyard on the south side of the chancel a slate-capped
abutment may be all that remains of the pre 1848 fabric. The nave has 3 C19
buttresses with set-offs and 4 C19 3-light Decorated style windows with hoodmoulds
and carved label stops. It also appears to be wholly of 1848 with an obvious
junction with the earlier masonry of the tower at the west end. The south aisle has
diagonal buttresses, coped buttresses to be south side and north and south coped
gables crowned with stone crosses. All the windows are 2-light 1848 Decorated style
with hoodmoulds and carved label stops The battlemented 3-stage west tower (1 string
course only) is battered and unbuttressed with a large projecting rectangular north
stair turret with slit windows. The scale of the turret is surprising, as is its
position on the north side, away from the entrance elevation of the Church. 3 steps
up to the shallow-moulded volcanic trap west doorway with a pointed segmental arch
and cushion stops. 3-light Decorated style west window with a hoodmould; clock above
window; 2-light square-headed cusped belfry openings on all 4 faces, similar lower
opening on south face.
The 1848 porch has diagonal buttresses, a coped gable and a 2-centred deeply-moulded
outer doorway with a hoodmould with carved label stops representing the Bishop of the
Diocese and Queen Victoria. The chamfered semi-circular inner doorway, the arch
springing from chamfered imposts, may be C12 or an 1848 re-cutting or copy. 1848
door with strap hinges.
Interior Plastered walls; no chancel arch ; double-chamfered tower arch, the inner
order dying into the walls. 4-bay Beerstone south arcade, l-bay to the chancel with
shallow-moulded 4-centred arches springing from piers with corner shafts and good
varied carved capitals. 1848 roofs, the nave and chancel roofs arch braced springing
from hammerbeams above stone corbels moulded purlins and a king post above the
brattished collar. Similar aisle roof but without the hammerbeams.
Very complete C19 sanctuary with tiling and an 1848 or later Bathstone reredos gabled
in the centre with a blind trefoil-headed niche with painted diaper work and painted
carvings of lilies to left and right. The reredos extends to left and right as a
blind arcade with marble shafts. C19 timber altar rail carved with quatrefoils. C19
choir stalls with traceried ends incorporating some medieval ends. C18 5-sided drum
pulpit with simple panelling and a moulded cornice. The nave benches are banked up
at the west end and include a number of medieval ends with 2 tiers of tracery. 1
bench end includes a lively figure, possibly connected with the wool trade. Octagonal
tub font with a circular rim carved with pellets and crosses. C20 tower screen.
Numerous monuments: On the north and south walls of the sanctuary C19 niches with
earlier chest tombs below. The chest on the north side, commemorating John Carew,
died 1588, has a Purbeck slab with armorial bearings on the wall above the chest.
The south chest commemorates the Reverend John West Carew, died 1826, with a brass on
the lid and armorial bearings above. High on the north wall of the sanctuary a wall
monument with Corinthian columns and an inscription panel with a cartouche includes 2
freestanding figures which appear to have originated from a different monument ; 1 is
a kneeling man, the other a seated child. Above the vestry door a good memorial to
Henry Baker, died 1849, in the form of a spherical triangle with blind tracery and
brass inscriptions. Gothic gabled monument in the south wall to Francis Carew, died
1848. C17 ledger stone used as chancel floor slab.
The east end of the south aisle contains 2 grand Carew family monuments. On the
south wall a stiff figure of Elizabeth Eriseyes, nee Carew, died 1618, reclines on a
chest below an arch flanked by Corinthian columns. The monument is crowned by an
achievement and putti with obelisks to left and right. The chest is decorated with
strapwork and a baby in a cradle is placed in front of the main figure on a shelf
above the chest with 2 notably rustic putti seated on stools, dabbing their eyes with
handkerchiefs; below the arch an elaborate cartouche frames a verse. The
architectural detail and ornament is of a higher quality than the figures. Against
the eat wall, and partly filling the east window of the aisle, a rather mutilated
monument (which may have been moved) to Sir Henry Carew, died 1681 and Dorothy, his
wife, died 1676. He lies on a tomb chest with pairs of kneelers at his head and
feet, his wife reclines on the window sill above him with an inscription panel behind
her crowned by an achievement and figures. The tomb chest is decorated with panels
with pots of flowers carved in relief. High quality. Wall monument on the south
wall of the aisle to Peter Carew, died 1654 and his wife, died 1619. Busts in relief
in round-headed niches flanked by Tuscan columns with an inscription panel between,
the monument crowned by an achievement. First world war brass memorial on the north
wall signed Wippell and Co.
Stained glass: includes the east window to Thomas Carew, died 1848 and his wife, died
1857, by William Wailes. Good south chancel window with a trail of passion flowers ;
window in nave commemorating Robert Baker Carew, died 1899, probably by Drake of
Exeter. Several other windows are filled with C19 painted and stamped quarries which
Cresswell suggests may have been copied from medieval originals. Bampfylde Moore
Carew, "the king of the gypsies" is said to have buried here in 1758.
The 1848 restoration is progressive for its date with good craftsmanship. The
architect is unknown to date but may be John Hayward of Exeter.
The Powell MS in the BM includes a description of the Church in 1811, Additional
MSS., No 17,459.
Davidson, "Church Notes East of Devon", MS in West Country Studies Library, pp. 493-
Cresswell, B.,"Notes on Devon Churches, Deanery of Tiverton", typescript in West
Country Studies Library. "Second Report of the Committee on Devonshire Records",
T.D.A., vol. XXII, 1890, pp 61-63.
Devon Nineteenth Century Churches Project.
Listing NGR: SS9422807183