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.

South Hams (District Authority)
Halwell and Moreleigh
National Grid Reference:
SX 77733 53204


HALWELL SX75SE HALWELL 9/327 Church of St Leonard 9.2.61


Parish church. Circa late C15 with some late C13 or early C14 reused material; restored and reroofed in 1896. Dressed local slate rubble. The windows are mainly volcanic stone. Slate roofs with gabled ends, the north aisle shorter than the nave and chancel which are under one roof. Plan and development: Although Halwell was one of the four burghs of Devon in the C10 it was surplanted by Totnes within a century and the returns of 1288 did not mention a church at Halwell. The church described in 1536 must be the existing late C15 building. It comprises a nave, chancel, north aisle of 5 bays, west tower and north porch. The rood screen was removed in 1810. In the late C19 a small vestry was added on the north side of the chancel in the angle with the north aisle. In 1897 the church was restored when the whole building was reroofed. This appears to have involved the rebuilding of the south wall of the nave, reusing the C15 windows. The south porch is also C19 and has a reset medieval out doorframe similar to that of the west doorway of the tower. These doorframes and the west window of the tower which has intersecting tracery must date from circa late C13 or C14. Therefore a church may have been built here soon after the 1288 returns or these features may be reused from another church such as Harberton church (qv) to which Halwell was attached before it became an independant ecclesiastical parish at the beginning of the C19. Exterior: Around the whole church including the west tower there is a dressed slate plinth which is not visible at the east end where it may be buried under the higher ground level. The south wall of the nave seems to have been rebuilt in C19 and the 4 large C15 4-ligh perpendicular windows are reset; they have panel tracery, 2-centred almost round arches with hood moulds, the easternmost (chancel) window seems to be a C16 replacement with round-headed lights in contrast to the ogee lights of the other windows. Between the windows buttresses with set-offs. A priest's doorway on the south side into the chancel with a moulded 4- centred arch and label. the south doorway has a chamfered 2-centred arch and one pyramid stop in Beerstone and an old studded oak plank door. The gabled south porch is late C19 but the moulded (double ogee) 2-centred arch doorway with cushion stops in red sandstone is medieval; reset in the gable above is an C18 oval shaped slate sundial. The Perpendicular style 3-light east window is probably a C19 replacement. On the east end of the chancel there are diagonal buttresses with set- offs. The north aisle is shorter than the nave and chancel, it has buttresses with set offs which are diagonally set on the corners and which alternate with 5 C15 3-light Perpendicular windows similar to those on the south side of the nave; between the 2 easternmost windows a 3-sided rood stair turret with moulded granite battlements. The east and west end windows of the north aisle are similar to the north windows. The north window of the chancel has a moulded depressed 2-centred arch and 1 mullion which is a later insertion. In the angle of the chancel and north aisle a small C19 vestry with a straight-headed window with 3 cusped lights. Tall 3 stage west tower with string courses of the stages set-back buttresses with set offs and moulded coping to the battlements. Straight headed belfry windows with 2 cusped lights and hoodmoulds on 3 sides of the tower; on the south side similar 1-light belfry windows on either side of the 5-sided stair turret which has very small window slits and rises above the main tower with small battlements. There is a small 3-light window on the east side lighting the second stage. The 3-light west window lighting the bell-ringers' stage has intersecting tracery and the west doorway below has a 2-centred arch with double ogee mouldings and cushion stops similar to the reset porch doorway but in granite. Interior: The floors are mainly slate. The walls are entirely plastered. The north wall may have early plaster. The hollow chamfered stone rear- arches are exposed. The nave, chancel and aisle roofs were replaced in 1897; they are collar rafter structures with moulded transverse ribs, the roof over the east end of the chancel has longitudinal rubs as well and carved bosses at the intersections and shields on the wall plates. The 5-bay north arcade has almost round 2-centred moulded arches and monolithic granite piers of Pevsner A-type with moulded capitals and bases. Plain unmoulded tall 2-centred tower arch with chamfered imposts. Inside the tower the stair turret doorway has a double ogee moulded 2- centred arch. Chamfered 3-centred arch doorway to rood stair turret. The north eastern window tracery has graffiti date of 1756. Furnishings: The box pews and choir stalls are circa mid C19, but reuse fielded panelling from earlier powers of late C18 or early C19. The tower screen is late C19. The square wooden pulpit is late C19 and has cusped panels. Early C20 carved oak altar and freestone reredos with cusped ogees and C20 altar rail. The plain octagonal granite font is C20 or late C19; the wooden ogee-domed front cover is c18. The organ is late C19 and has painted pipes and a keyboard from the USA. The hatchment on the north wall of the aisle appears to be C20. The 4 bell of 1553 were recast as 6 bells in 1763 by Pennington; the 4th bell was recast again in 1823 by Hambling of Blackawton. Monuments: Slate mural tablet in chancel to John Elford of Longstone who was a decendant of Thomas Elford, Sheriff of Cornwall 1301. A mural monument to John Edmonds of Ashprington died 1754 and his wife Elizabeth died 1764, an oval slate cartouche without a surround and with an angel head below the inscription and crudely carved head above, situated on the north wall of the aisle. The other monuments on the north wall are C19 classical marble plaques. On the south wall of the nave a marble plaque to Nicholas Friend died 1741. There is a ledger stone between the nave and chancel dated 1625. Reference: B F Cresswell, Notes on Devon Churches, Deanery of Totnes.

Listing NGR: SX7773153200


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Cresswell, B F, Notes on Devon Churches of the Deanery of Totnes, (1904)


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 Sep 2005
Reference: IOE01/14846/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Keith Mackenzie. Source Historic England Archive
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