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.

East Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SY 07305 85738


BICTON BICTON PARK ST 08 NE 3/14 Church of St. Mary - 30.6.61 GV II* Parish Church. Foundation stone laid 1848 and Church consecrated 1850. Built at the expense of Louisa, Lady Rolle; J. Hayward, architect. Snecked grey limestone and larger ashlar block with faint rustication on the quoins and buttresses; Hamstone ashlar detail, interior Caen stone ashlar detail; roof of scallop-shaped red tiles with fleur-de-lys crested ridge tiles. Cruciform plan church. The nave is taller than the chancel and transepts. The north transept contains the Rolle Pew and the north porch alongside gave the family their own entrance. Tower over the end of the south transept which also includes the vestry. South porch towards west end of the nave. Single phase church in Decorated Gothic style. There is a chamfered plinth round all the church. A short distance above this is a moulded dripcourse and there is another above that at window sill level. Like the plinth these follow round the buttresses. The windows contain Decorated style tracery. All the windows and arches, except those on the tower have hoodmoulds with labels carved the heads of Kings and Queens. All around the church are iron gutters with embossed fleur-de-lys on the sides and a crenellated top. All the gables have shaped kneelers, some enriched with carved heads, coping and fleuree apex crosses. The west end has angle buttresses. There are lancets each end with cusped tracery and a large oculus towards the top. On the south side there is another lancet at the left end. Then the porch; it is gable ended with low diagonal buttresses and small trefoil-headed windows in the side walls. The outer arch is 2-centred with a moulded surround and half-engaged shafts with moulded caps and bases. Above the arch is a sunken trefoil panel containing the date 1850. To the left are two 3-light windows with Decorated tracery separated by a buttress and, at the right end, another lancet with cusped tracery. Tall south tower of 3 stages with angle buttresses stopping below the belfry. The stair turret projects a little from the south-west corner and its stone roof hips into the walls at belfry level. Its chamfered corner splays out to a square corner just above the upper dripcourse. It has small quatrefoil lights and an external door on the west side, a segmental pointed arch with the dripcourse carried over as a hood. It contains a plank door. The parapet is open and contains cusped tracery over a moulded frieze containing a series of carved gargoyle heads. Large 2-light belfry windows with Decorated style tracery. They are filled with a stone lattice of quatrefoil shapes. On the west side the lower stage contains 2 trefoil-headed lancets, one over the other. The south side has an oculus with tracery in the middle stage, a trefoil-headed lancet towards the top of the lower stage and, at the bottom, a 2-centred arch priests doorway with moulded surround and the dripcourse carried over as a hood. On the east side of the tower the lower stage includes a segmental pointed arched 2-light window. The transept to right has a single lancet with tracery. The chancel has angle buttresses, a 2-light window each side and a large 5-light window in the east end. The north transept also has angle buttresses and a 4-light window in the end. The north porch is gable-ended and has a 2-centred outer arch similar to that on the south porch and it contains a plank door with ornate strap hinges. There is a twin lancet window in the side. The north side of the nave has 3 3-light windows with buttresses between and a lancet with cusped tracery at the right (western) end. The carvings of royal heads on the labels and on the kneelers in fact form a complete series of the monarchs of England and in order beginning immediately right of the south porch. Some are very distinctive eg. Philip and Mary on the north transept. Queen Elizabeth is in the corner just above. A place is even found for Oliver Cromwell, the kneeler of the north porch. The north windows of the nave have the Stuarts to William and Mary, the Georges on the west end, and the series is completed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on the south porch. Interior preserves the 1851 scheme in its entirety and is of high quality. The south porch has a stone flagged floor and an open roof of scissor-braced common rafter couples. The south doorway is a 2-centred arch with a moulded surround and a plank door with Gothic-style wrought iron strap hinges. The nave has an open 8-bay roof of king post trusses with moulded arch braces springing from stone corbels carved as human heads. The heads represent the Divines of the English Church. There is a moulded stone cornice along the wall top. The roof is backed by pine boards. The transepts and chancel have boarded vaults with moulded ribs and carved boss over the crossing. Here is the same moulded stone cornice and more carved stone corbels, the largest in the church in each corner of the crossing. The chancel arch is a moulded stone arch with clustered column responds, carved foliate caps and a hoodmould with carved angels on the labels. The walls are plastered and the windows have chamfered rear inner arches. The tiled floor includes patterns of encaustic tiles. The floor of the crossing is bordered with encaustic tiles and features a panel of the Royal Arms and the initials VR repeated around. A marble step up to the sanctuary has tiles featuring the Rolle Arms and insignia and the sanctuary floor itself is rich with encaustic tiles featuring symbols of the Evangelists amongst others. The furniture is of oak and Gothic style. The altar front has a blind arcade with carved spandrels. The altar rail is on a sturdy arcade. The Rolle pew in the north transept and stalls in the south transept have blind arcades to the frontals and carved tracery and poppyhead finials on the bench ends. The oak eagle lectern is dated 1907 in memory of Mark Rolle. The drum pulpit has blind arcaded sides and crocketted finials. The benches in the nave are plainer than the others with blind tracery on the ends and moulded tops. The font is very ornate; it is made of Caen stone carved by Samuel Rowe of Exeter. It is octagonal and Perpendicular Gothic in style. The sides have cusped arches springing from the heads of of praying angels and with crocketted pinnacles on the corners and carved foilage in the spandrels. The stem is plain under a band of foliage. The stepped base includes a painted Biblical quotation. There are no memorials in the church. The painted arms of George III hang on the north side of the nave. All the windows except those on the south side are original and in consistent Decorated Gothic style. The east window contains representations of the apostles and the Virgin Mary. This church replaced the original medieval church which was ruined and converted to the Rolle Mausoleum (q.v) by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. It became a feature of the landscaped concept of Bicton Park and its Italianate Gardens (q.v.). The importance of the church however goes beyond its completeness, quality and landscape value. Lade Rolle employed Hayward, a pioneer architect of the Ecclesiological Movement and this is a good early example of a church which adheres to their principles. Sources: Devon C19 Church Project. L.A.G. Bicton Church n.d. (Probably 1851), private publication.

Listing NGR: SY0731385743


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bicton Church Guide, (1851)


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

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 05 Jun 2002
Reference: IOE01/06069/03
Rights: © Mr Tom Gordon. Source: Historic England Archive
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