CULLOMPTON CHURCH ROAD, Cullompton
ST 00 NW
10/80 Parish Church of St Andrew
Parish church. Nave and north and south aisles possibly first half of the C15; lane
aisle (i.e. outer south aisle) begun in 1526 and building still in progress in 1552;
west tower begun 1539 and building still in progress in 1545; church restored and
the chancel rebuilt in 1849-51 by Edward Ashworth. Coursed rubble red sandstone
and brecchia with Beerstone dressing. West tower, nave, north and south aisles,
outer south aisle, south-west porch, chancel, south-east vestry.
Exterior: Tower of 4 stages, set-back buttresses with 4 set-offs, all with crouching
animals and finials; battlemented parapet with quatrefoil panels, openwork pinnacles
to corners, and also set half way along each side; all crocketted and finiaied.
Polygonal stair turett to north face. Pointed 2-light belfry opening to all sides,
pierced, with transom. 2-light ringing-chamber opening to 2nd stage, south. Much
elaborate Beerstone detailing to the west show front; central panel above 4-light
Perpendicular west window; the sill to the panel is formed by the string course to
the 2nd stage; defaced Calvary with one smaller panel to either side containing St
George and Edmund the Martyr respectively, all under nodding canopies; panels framed
by foilated shafts with faces, knops and capitals, the detailing Renaissance in character
This front further enlivened with quatrefoil frieze to plinth and 1st stage; armorial
panels flank west window (displaying the arms of England and of Bishop Veysey); hoodmould
of west door formed by plinth string-course, the door surround with concave moulding
bearing fleurons, and varied coloured stone voussoirs. C19 gabled stone clock surround
with pinnacles placed above Calvary panel. North side of tower with one armorial
panel; 2 similar panels to south with a third showing the Annunciation below the
ringing-chamber opening, much defaced. Legends to these panels obliterated, but
they include the date of construction (1539).
South side: battlemented porch to west end of inner north aisle, set back buttresses,
quatrefoil panels to merlons, and quatrefoil frieze below; south doorway with fleurons
to middle concave moulding, with a similar doorway to south aisle proper; parvise,
with square-headed 2-light window to south. Early C19 iron gates.
Lane aisel: 5 bays, battlemented with a frieze of quatrefoils (dated 1805); 4-light
Perpendicular windows with buttresses, 3 set-offs, between; the great 6-light west
window and the 2 to the west of the aisle are contemporary with the C16 scheme, the
others apear to have been reused from the old south aisle. The south front is adorned
with motifs reflecting the source of John Lane's wealth; these have been much discussed
and the problems resolved by Prof. Carus-Wilson (see reference below), and include
cloth shears, and handles (the "figure-4" motif, a handframe set with teasels to
the cloth), and boats. Polygonal stair turret to rood-screen door and aisle roof;
priest's door. 5 lead rainwater heads, one dated 1709, another 1810. Late-medieval
south east vestry, with a 2-light south window and a little square-headed east window
with concave surround, stanchions and saddle bars, 20 leaded panes per light. Chancel,
by Ashworth, set-back buttresses, Perpendicular east window of 5 lights; lancet and
3-light side windows to sanctuary.
North side: 6 bays, battlemented, 4-light Perpendicular windows, one with a crenellated
transom, perhaps marking a former chantry; polygonal screen stair-turret. North-
west doorway with fleurons to concave moulding.
Interior: nave and chancel of 6 bays with no structural division; conventional wavy
moulding, varied capitals with foliage, faces and angels. Internal panelled buttressing
to lane aisle arcade with evidence (to the 2 eastermost bays) of former screens.
All windows with internal nook shafts, except the 3-light clerestory windows, depressed
window arches and deep reveals. Medieval plasterwork survives in the north-east
Roof: nave and chancel with elaborate celled wagon, 4 bays-each divided by transverse
rib with foliated sides and soffit and central pendant, which spring from small
hammerbeams that support large angels; panels to each bay with bosses at intersection
of subordinate ribs, each panel with diagonal rib with fretted borders and small
central bosses; panelled wall-plate with angel corbels. Much of the colour in the
nave is probably C18 and early C19, but some of the medieval paintwork may survive; a
reference to Ashworth regilding the chancel suggests that he retained the old roof,
rather than construct a copy; above the screen is an arch-braced tie beam designed to
support to rood, which judging by the size of the Golgotha (preserved at the rear of
the church, and a unique survival) and the mortices on the rood-loft floor, must have
filled the available space in between. Fillets have been inserted on the south side of
the roof-beam to rectify outward lean of the south wall.
North and south aisles: flat panelled ceilings, the ribs chamfered, with run-out
stops, diagonal ribbing and central bosses to each panel. Some early colour survives
Lane aisles: a 5-bay stone form vault may be the result of a late change in plan
after building operations were underway. A full technical description and appraisal
appears in Leedy (see reference below). The original cranked timber collars above the
vault survive intact.
Screens: rood screen: late C15 with no Renaissance detailing; 11 bays with open
tracery to each similar in design but not identical, to aisle window tracery. Coving
complete with 3 tiers of foliage; brattishing of 1850 when the colouring renewed.
Rood loft mortices for frontal and Golgotha (which itself supported Cross and the
figures of Mary and John).
South parclose: 4 bays with entrance under segmental arch, conventional Perpendicular
tracery panels, wainscotting and a 2-tier cornice.
North parclose: to the More chantry chapel; an unusual design, 4 wide bays with very
angular tracery made up of straight ribs and peg-like cusping; one foliage band to
cornice with dragons to each end, with shield bearing angels forming a wide frieze
above; cornice and frieze to either side of screen set at a 450 angle. The shields
show More quartering various families; the armorial evidence suggests a late C16 date
but although of unusual profile the detailing of this parclose is entirely late-
medieval in character.
Wallpaintings: now covered, but disclosed and recorded by Ashworth in Transactions of
the Exeter Diocesan Society, III (1849), plates XXXIII-XXXVII; they appear to have
formed a remarkably complete set.
West gallery: supported by 5 Ionic columns, the frontal with panels of paired round-
headed arches, the side panel divided by Ionic or Doric pilasters, the central panel
by atlanter with Ionic capitals. Decorate frieze, with heads; decorative band below.
A panel (south chancel aisle), possibly late C16, with Faith, Hope, Philip and Thomas
each under round-headed arch.
Monuments: C14 monument slab (in south-west porch) with badly worn foliated cross.
Numerous floor slabs in More chantry (detailed descriptions in Cresswell, see
reference below), and another, half obscured by C19 seating, to John Lane at the east
end of his aisle.
Nave, south wall: mural monument to Francis Colman, Esq., d.1820, erected 1849by I E
Carew of London, moulded surrounds to 2 epitaph panels with palm swirls and heraldic
device above. Some small, minor late C18 and early C19 wall tablets; especially good
is that to David Sweet, d.1807, urn and epitaph panel with cornice, set against a
black marble cartouche (north aisle, north wall).
Lane aisle, south wall: WWI memorial (under the Morris window), waxy red and white
marble, 3 panels, the names of the dead to the centre, with a soldier and a parting
from family scene occupying outer panels.
Glass: 9 good C19 and early C20 windows, including a Morris & Co., 1904; a Drake Lane
aisle south, 1882 (and probably Lane aisle east, 1877), and 2 which are probably
Clayton & Bell (Lane aisle west, and south VIII).
References: Cullompton is generally regarded as one of the finest churches in the
west country and has a considerable literature, of which this is a selection: various
articles in Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Society, III (1849); E S Chalk, "The
Church of St Andrew, Cullompton, Trans.Devonshire Assoc., 42 (1910), 182-205; Beatrix
Cresswell, typescripe volume on Deanery of Cullompton, West Country Studies Library;
John Stabb, Some Old Devon Churches I, 44-5, plate 32; N Pevsner, SD, pp 96-88; E
Carus-Wilson, "The Significance of the Secular Sculpture in the Lane Chapel,
Cullompton; Medieval Archaeology, I (1957), 104-17 and end plates; W C Leedy, Fan
Vaulting, A Study of Form, Technology and Meaning (1980), pp 157-8; Devon C19
Listing NGR: ST0219107174