KENTON CHURCH STREET (north side), Kenton
SX 98 SE
6/213 Church of All Saints
Parish church. Cresswell and Pevsner date the building c. 1360-70 on the basis of
the will of William Slighe, died 1379, in which he expresses a wish to be buried in
theaisle he had recently built, "in elaquam ego ibidem de novo construxi", although
it has been argued that this refers only to refurbishing and the date of the building
may be later (Slader). Restoration and re-roofing of 1854 by David Mackintosh, some
refurbishing and repair of the 1890s. Dressed red brecchia, brought to course, with
some blocks of Beerstone and Beerstone dressings ; brecchia ashlar tower ; return
walls of porch and east end of south aisle are stone rubble.
Plan: Nave, chancel, west tower, 7-bay north and south aisles (1 bay to the chancel),
south-west porch, north-east vestry. Perpendicular, of an unusually grand character,
the church could be one build ; 1866 vestry.
Exterior: Large and impressive with embattled aisles with polygonal turrets (q.v.
Kenn). Most of the window tracery is C19, of an early Perpendicular character.
Chancel with diagonal buttresses with set-offs ; 6-light east window with C19
tracery, king mullion and carved label stops ; 4-light C19 Perpendicular windows to
north and south sides ; chamfered 2-centred arched priest's doorway on south side ;
1866 north-east-vestry with parapet, stack with stone shaft, north door and 2-light
east window. The south side of the church, facing the road, is noticeably the show
front with carved detail not used on the north side. Beerstone coping to the
battlementing ; a carved cornice moulding ; set-back buttresses at south east and
south west corners ; buttresses to each bay with set-offs crowned with tall pinnacles
and grotesques and 4-light Perpendicular windows with C19 tracery. A projecting 5-
sided embattled stair turret divides the eastern bays, the turret with a carved
cornice and grotesques. The east wall has been rebuilt in re-constituted stone with
a 3-light C19 Perpendicular east window and 3-light C19 Perpendicular west window.
Grand embattled 2-storey porch in the first headed bay from the west with set-back
buttresses. The battlementing has statue niches and the porch is decorated with
gargoyles. The off-centre square-headed outer doorway is richly carved with carved
spandrels and large projecting medieval carved label stops. Above the doorway an
unusual large carved canopy niche is flanked by 1-light cusped windows with a common
hoodmould and label stops ; holy water stoup to left of doorway on the exterior wall.
The north side is also embattled (battlementing replaced with reconstituted stone)
but plainer, the bays with 7 4-light C19 Perpendicular windows divided by buttresses
with set-offs with a 3-sided battlemented north west stair turret with access from
the interior of the church ; blocked window at west end with a later blocked doorway.
Imposing 3-stage battlemented tower with set-back buttresses and an internal north-
west stair turret. Corner pinnacles with canopied niches containing presumably C15
sculptured figures - a rare survival. The west face has a moulded west doorway with
cushion stops and a hoodmould, a 4-light C19 Perpendicular west window and a canopied
statue niche with an ogee arch. There is a similar statue niche on the south face
which also has a 1-light cusped bellringer's window and a clock in a stone frame.
Grand 3-light traceried belfry windows with transoms, masonry much renewed in the C19
Interior: The porch, originally vaulted, has a flat roof, a richly -carved inner
doorway with large projecting carved label stops and a remodelled canopied statue
niche above. Lofty interior to church with plastered walls ; no chancel arch ; tower
arch with panelled soffit and C19 stencilling above the arch; 7-bay Perpendicular
Beerstone arcades ; the piers with corner shafts, boldly carved foliage capitals and
moulded arches. Shafted rear arches to the windows ; moulded doorway with cushion
stops to the room over the porch. Open wagon roof to nave and chancel probably
1865; lean-to aisle roof of 1854 designed by D. Mackintosh. The nave is dominated by
the impressive ll-bay rood screen, the heraldry suggesting a date during Peter
Courtenay's Bishopric, 1478-1486 (Bond and Camm), the coving and rood loft parapet
replaced by Herbert Read under the direction of Bligh Bond in the late C19 and early
C20, re-instating the medieval proportions of the screen and quite unlike the usual
survivals. Medieval wainscot paintings of saints ; some ancient colour on the
carving and apostles carved in niches on the centre doorframe (q.v. North Bovey);
early C20 silver rood by Henry Wilson, formerly on the High Altar at Exeter
Cathedral. 4-bay parclose screens with square-headed 4-light openings have heart-
shaped crocketted cresting. The chancel has probably C19 sedilia under a simple
arch, a 2-tier probably medieval aumbry and a trefoil-headed hogioscope into the
north chancel chapel. Massive carved timber tryptich reredos erected in 1843, carved
" under the direction of Mr Kempe" (TEDAS), some carving by Sebastian Zwinke of
Oberammergau. Altar rail of 1907, designed by Bligh Bond ; choir stalls with
poppyhead ends 1865 ; monumental relief of the raising of Lazarus by Stevens on the
north wall. North parclose door made up of carved late C15/early C16 bench ends.
The nave has an interesting C15 timber drum pulpit on a wineglass stem, richly carved
and largely reconstructed by Herbert Read to the designs of Bligh Bond after Baring-
Gould found it in pieces. Octagonal carved font of 1844; set of 1865 square-headed
bench ends with quatrefoil decoration. The north chancel chapel was formerly the
family pew of Oxton Manor House and retains some good, probably late C17 dado
panelling with strapwork and the remains of a piscina.
Monuments Numerous ledger stones used as floor slabs. Large early C17 wall monument
to Dulcabella Hodges, died 1628, in the north chancel chapel with a seated figure,
her head resting on one hand with a weeper. Inscription tablet with Corinthian
columns and a cornice to Sir Nicholas Martyn, died 1653 on south wall of the chapel
which also has a 3-bay early C19 monument on the east wall to members of the Swete
family and a white marble wall tablet with an urn to John Swete, died 1831, signed J.
Kendall, Exon. Numerous early C19 wall tablets in the nave ; mosaic of the good
Shepherd on the north wall commemorating Frederick Marshall, churchwarden 1914-20.
Stained Glass East window said by Pevsner to be Clayton and Bell ; north and south
chancel windows by Drake of Exeter with memorial date of 1891. South aisle window
quarry glass and head tracery glass in north aisle by Beer (1865), grisaille glass in
east window by north chancel chapel probably also by Beer. West window "painted by
Bannstyre (sic) of Edinburgh" (TEDAS) ; some fragments of medieval glass in the north
An outstanding church, both externally and for its fittings.
Bond, F.Bligh and Camm, Dom Bede, Roodscreens and Roodlofts (1909), vol. II. pp 325-
Cresswell, Beatrix F, Notes on the Churches of the Deanery of Kenn Devon (1912), pp.
Pevsner, South Devon (1952).
Slader, J. M. The Churches of Devon (1968) p. 61-62.
'The Church of All Saints, Kenton', Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural
Society, 3rd series, 1 (1899) pp. 108-118.
Devon Nineteenth Century Churches Project.
Listing NGR: SX9579483310