Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 62098 29994


SWIMBRIDGE SWIMBRIDGE SS 62 NW 11/207 Church of St James 25.2.65 GV I

Parish church. West tower probably C13 with broach spire added in C14. Remainder of church rebuilt in C15 and C16. Restored 1880. South aisle and south porch of dressed stone, remainder of stone rubble. Slate roofs with coped gable ends -and apex crosses. West tower, nave, north and south aisles, chancel, north and south chancel chapels. Vestry with priests chamber above to north side. Battered plinth to unbuttressed tower with patterned lead broach spire, releaded 1892 by J Smyth. Medieval roof structure of spire intact. Pointed arches to the lucarnes on each face. Small single light window on south side. Large clock face on west side. Pointed arched west window to south aisle of 3 trefoil-headed lights with hoodmould. Embattled parapet to south aisle and porch. Sundial dated 1755 towards west end of south side. C19 straight-headed 3-light window to left of porch. C16 pointed arched doorway with Pevsner 'A' type moulding to the surround with lipped capitals to the shafts and hoodmould. Ceiled waggon roof to porch with variously carved bosses at the intersections of the moulded ribs and longitudinal members. 4-centred arch to inner doorway with hollow ogee roll moulded surround and rams horns stops to the base of the jambs. C19 plank door of 2 leaves. To right of porch, 2 straight-headed C19 windows of 3-lights flanking ashlar buttress with offsets. Priests doorway with C19 door and moulded surround with large stone voussoirs. South aisle east window of 3 cinquefoil-headed lights with pointed arched hoodmould. 4-light chancel east window with Perpendicular tracery and corbel to right side of hoodmould. Priests chamber has first floor window with hollow-chamfered surround, iron stanchions and saddle bars and hoodmould with returned ends. Pointed head to stone tablet to daughter of Tristram Chichester, iron stanchions and saddle bars. Ashlar stack with offsets to right side. Pointed arched window in Perpendicular style of 5 lights to east end of north aisle with hoodmould. Large 4-light window also Perpendicular style on north side of north transept flanked by 2 buttresses. 4 buttresses with offsets to north aisle and 3 tall straight-headed windows of three 4-centred arched lights with fillet and cavetto mullions and all with iron stanchions and saddle bars. Pointed arched window in Perpendicular style of 3 lights to west end of north aisle with hoodmould. Interior: spectacular rich interior fittings and furnishings. South and north arcades of 3 bays with Pevsner 'B' type mouldings. South arcade has lipped capitals only to the main shafts, north arcade has standard leaf capitals. Chancel arcade on south side has 'A' type responds with small capitals, and deep sunk chamfer to the soffit of the arch. Blind trefoil headed tracery to west side of chancel/nave pier. North chancel arcade is similar to north nave arcade, but with a deeper arch. The pier from which the chancel and nave arcades and also the north chancel chapel arch which is pointed with Pevsner 'B' type mouldings and with crowned human head corbel on the north side, all spring have leaf capitals to north-east side, 2 demi-angels clutching shields and small figure to east side and blind trefoil-headed panels to west and south sides. Eastern respond of north chancel arcade has leaf capitals with additional short bay, partially infilled with a small pointed arch on west side and vestry doorway across the angle with moulded surround. Unmoulded pointed tower arch and round headed timber nave chancel arch with cusped-headed panelling. Continuous waggon roof to south aisle. Every fourth rib moulded with carved bosses at the intersections of the ribs and purlins which are colour painted. The east end section is ceiled with 4 panels which have foliated centre and corner bosses to the crossed ribs. Waggon roof to nave with every third rib moulded and carved bosses at the intersections of 3 tiers of purlins and ridge purl in and the ribs supported on carved wall plates which retain some original painted decoration. Demi-angel corbels to the main ribs. 4 sections at east end are ceiled with crossed ribs spanning 2 sections with 2 foliated stars in each section. The ceilure continues into the raking roof of the clerestory 3- light timber mullioned window. North aisle waggon roof repeats that of the south aisle but ends at chapel arch. Richly carved leaf decoration to the wall plates and painted decoration survives to the main ribs and purlins. Unceiled chancel roof has no purlins, and is without decoration and on south side the wall plate is carried on short corbelled out wall posts with moulded soffits to the braces and quatrefoil tracery to the spandrels. Trabeated ceiling to north chancel chapel with painted decorations to the main beams and large richly carved bosses to the intersections and at the ends of the cross members. Enriched C19 marble and stone carved reredos by Hems and Son of Exeter to memory of Smyth family. Kneeling angels in ogee-headed recesses with flame finials to blind traceried pilasters outside saints figures in niches with slender marble colonnettes supporting triple trefoil-headed arched canopies. Central crucifixion scene with 2 figures each side of Christ has similar enlarged triple-arched canopy. Enriched foliated cornice and cresting. Combined C19 piscina, 1/2-sedilia and double 4-centred arched sedilia on south side. C19 choir seating with poppy head bench ends. Fine square-framed chancel screen across length of church restored 1880. 11 bays with half end bays. Openings to centre and a 2nd bay in from each side. The 3rd and 4th bays are cut through with rectangular openings. That to north side said to be site of Altar of St Katherine, the right side inserted in 1880 for sake of uniformity. Heavily carved cornice crested with brattishing below which are 4 large and small alternating bands of carving. Each bay of 4 lights with slender muntins and cable mouldings to the central stiles. Richly carved outer stiles carry the ribbed vaulting beneath the loft. Panelled base, each panel with various naturalistic carvings to the ogee-headed lights. 5 pairs of pews to each side of rear of nave retain some timber from C16 bench ends, otherwise C19 bench ends with Renaissance style carvings. Fine stone late C15 pulpit. 5 facets to drum standing on slender octagonal stem with blind cusped panels to the head of each facet with foliated capitals. Demi-angels to the base of each muntin with crocketted finials. Figures of Saints Paul, Peter, Augustine, Ambrose and Jerome on each of five facets with ogee canopies, leaf crockets and Tudor ornament to the head. C19 winder stone steps with wrought iron stick balusters, moulded hand rail and thin band of ogee- headed pierced tracery between the balusters. Remarkable font resembling a pulpit with an enriched canopy with 2 angels bearing shields at the corners. Foliated cornice and crossed ribs to the soffit of the canopy continuing down the coving, and carved emblems to each section. The sides of the canopy splay inwards with cable moulded muntins, each side 3 panels high with rich Renaissance carvings on each panel. The font is of 3 tiers with 7-facets. Bottom panels are plain except one to rear which has C16 scrolling design. 2nd tier is carved with Renaissance details in all panels, the front 2 panels to left and 3 panels are hinged and open in the manner of cupboard doors to reveal lead-lined bowl. Top tier has plain panels separated by balustered pilasters with crocketted finials and turned pinnacles. Canted canopy with small round arches to each cant and crown cover with open trusses and cable moulded central shaft. C17 chest to nave, 3 panelled front with lunettes to the head rail. Small pointed arched piscina to east wall of north chapel. Monuments: chancel north side. Marble tablet to John Nott Esq d.1856 north chancel chapel, east wall. Pedimented plaque dated 1793 above pedimented wall tablet with anthemion acroteria to John Nott of Tordown d.1809. Wall monument to Charles Cutcliffe and Christina his sister d.1721. Oil painting of bust in oval medallion with small shields each side and putti above, resting on Ionic pilastered tablet with scrolled wings and skull in base. Marble wall monument below this by Stephens of Exeter. Oval plaque with Classical urn to one side on plinth to William and Elizabeth Hole d.1819 and 1822. North wall of chancel chapel has Classical urn to elliptical wall tablet to Priscilla Thorne of Bristol d.1783 and daughter by T Paty and Sons of Bristol. West wall has wedge-shaped metal plaque with fluted pilasters supporting semi-circular arch with inscription 1674 above HL inside the arch and WS above HY to left, CG above AR outside WARDEN below. North wall north aisle large wall monument with small urns flanking achievement above shouldered surround with puttis to each side and winged skull below to Lewis Rosier d.1676 with original painted decoration. Oval medallion with enriched scrolling surround to Henry Chichester of Hall d.1736. Skull below 2 putti and achievement above. At west end, 6 clappers from old bells on wooden plaque 1928. South aisle from west end 3 pedimented marble wall tablets to members of Joce family, and Elizabeth Cowell, mid C19. Pedimented wall tablet with obelisk to centre of pediment and flanking figures. Roundel with skull above Ionic pilasters with scrolled wings with shields to each side and below with cherubs heads to John Rosier d.1658. Wall monument to Tristram Chichester d.1654. Large achievement with broken scrolled pediment above Ionic pilasters with shields to sides and below. Oval medallion with cherubs heads to the spandrels containing bust of male figure leaning on hand. Scrolled surround to epitaph below. C19 stained glass east window and east window of south.

Listing NGR: SS6209729994


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 13 Oct 1999
Reference: IOE01/00097/03
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr L.E. Abbott. Source Historic England Archive
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