19/180 Church of Saint Peter
Parish church. C15 tower. C15 nave and aisle rebuilt in 1868, incorporating some
C15 work, and chancel rebuilt and porch (possibly replacing an earlier structure) and
vestry added also in 1868. Restoration and rebuilding possibly by Gould of
Barnstaple. Dressed stone with limestone and granite ashlar (tower) dressings.
North side of nave, chancel and vestry of C19 snecked dressed stone. Gable-ended
Welsh-slate roofs (separately over nave and aisle).
Plan and development: C19 three-bay nave and south aisle with south porch in the
first bay from the west, all restored and largely rebuilt (in a C15 Gothic style) in
1868. The porch appears to be completely circa 1868 but might have replaced an
earlier structure. Two-bay chancel rebuilt in 1868 in an Lancet Gothic style
(possibly replacing a C13 chancel) with a north vestry of 1868 which also became an
organ chamber when that instrument was inserted in 1906. C15 west tower.
Exterior: Three-stage tower with a hollow-chamfered plinth, diagonal buttresses with
chamfered offsets, string courses with chamfered offsets to each stage, and tall
battlemented parapet with chamfered copings and square corner piers with crocketed
pinnacles. Square-headed louvred 2-light belfry openings, each with chamfered
mullion and reveals and hoodmould. Small chamfered one-light pointed-arched window
in the second stage to the south. C19 first-stage west window (probably a
restoration of a C15 window) of 3 ogee cinquefoil-headed lights with panelled
tracery, hollow-chamfered reveals, returned hoodmould and dressed stone arch above.
C15 continuously-moulded arched west doorway below with C19 returned hoodmould,
dressed stone arch above and pair of probable early C20 plank doors. Tower plinth
returns to the ground each side of the doorway. Two small chamfered rectangular
windows lighting stair in north-west corner of the tower. Cresswell refers to some
carved initials on the dripstones of the tower windows (SF and WB: WW) but these were
not noted at time of survey (January 1988).
The south aisle has buttresses (diagonal at corners) with chamfered offsets, and
parapeted gable ends with shaped kneelers, coping and cross at apex to east. Two
square-headed windows of 3 ogee cinquefoil-headed lights with panelled tracery and
returned hoodmoulds with carved square stops. Segmental dressed-stone relieving
arches above each window. Possibly C13 or C14 continuously-chamfered pointed-arched
south doorway to left with dressed stone arch and C19 plank door with large
decorative wrought-iron strap hinges. C19 south porch has diagonal buttresses with
chamfered offsets and parapeted gable with shaped kneelers, coping and cross at apex.
Chamfered dressed-stone pointed archway with returned ashlar hoodmould. C19 lantern
above entrance on twisted wrought-iron brackets. The interior of the porch has a C19
encaustic-tiled floor and a C19 wooden roof with a hollow-chamfered wall plate and
collar trussed rafters. The west end of the south aisle has a window of 3 ogee
cinquefoil-headed lights with panelled tracery, hollow-chamfered reveals, returned
hoodmould and dressed-stone arch above, and the east end of the south aisle has a
window with 3 cinquefoil-headed lights, hoodmould with carved square stops and
Nave has a chamfered plinth, buttresses with chamfered offsets and a parapeted gable
end to east with shaped kneeler, coping and cross at apex. Three square-headed
windows of 3 ogee cinquefoil-headed lights with tracery and hoodmoulds with carved
square stops (some carved with monograms: "NH" and "AH").
The chancel has a chamfered plinth, angle buttresses with chamfered offsets and
parapeted gable end with shaped kneelers, coping and cross at apex. Tiled ridge
cresting. Two south windows consisting of short paired chamfered lancets which have
hoodmoulds with richly-carved foliate stops. The east end has a string course
carried around the flanking buttresses and stepped up to the cill of stepped triple
chamfered lancets which have hoodmoulds with richly-carved foliate stops. Lower
parts of lancets blind and inscribed: "REBUILT 1868 RESTORED". Vestry with chamfered
plinth and a parapeted gable end to the north with shaped kneelers and coping.
Integral ashlar stack at the apex of the gable with chamfered corners and hollow-
chamfered cornice to the projecting cap. Ridge vent with tented cap. Square-headed
north window with 2 cinquefoil-headed lights and hoodmould with square stops carved
with monograms. Segmental dressed-stone relieving arch above. Chamfered Caernarvon-
arched east doorway with runout stops, left-hand spandrel with the carved initials:
"I.P", right-hand spandrel with the carved initials: "E.P.C." and C19 plank door with
decorative strap hinges. C19 cast-iron guttering, rainwater heads and downpipes,
probably of 1868.
Interior: Complete fine High Victorian chancel with an elaborate decorative scheme
and fittings. Chancel arch consisting of a continuous hollow chamfer with bar stops
and moulded inner arch springing from short wall columns with carved foliate capitals
and corbels. Hoodmould with carved foliate stops. Painted decoration on wall above
arch (possibly onto canvas) with painted inscription: "0 PRAISE THE LORD OF HEAVEN"
(left-hand side) and :"PRAISE HIM IN THE HEIGHT" (right-hand side). Three stone
steps up to chancel with patterned glazed-tiled floor and 2 sanctuary steps. Moulded
string course around walls of chancel (carried over north door as hoodmould) with
carved stops. Triple east lancets have Purbeck marble nook shafts with moulded bases
and capitals and shaft rings, hollow-chamfered jambs, rear arches with dogtooth
ornament and hoodmoulds with carved foliate stops (Cresswell says that the lancets
are old, with later nook shafts, but the windows appear to be completely C19,
although possibly renewed). Two south windows have Purbeck shafts with moulded bases
and capitals and shaft rings, hollow-chamfered jambs, rear arches with dogtooth
ornament and hoodmoulds with carved foliate stops. Chamfered-arched piscina with
carved leaf decoration above and reset old granite bowl. Moulded trefoiled-arched
recess (possibly aumbry) to north with carved crockets and carved foliate end stops.
Chamfered Caernarvon-arched vestry doorway with trefoiled-circle panels in spandrels.
String course carried over doorway as hoodmould. May memorial above doorway
consisting of large marble moulded trefoil panel with dogtooth ornament, carved
crockets and painted and gilded base consisting of carved stone band supported on
short Purbeck marble colonnettes at each end with moulded bases and capitals.
Inscription in memory of the Revd. Samuel May (d. 22nd February 1782) the Revd.
William Turner (d. 7th October 1801) and Martha his wife (d. 23rd December 1818), and
other members of the May and Blarkmore families. Three-bay roof consisting of
chamfered arched-braced collar trusses (including trusses against end walls), pairs
of purlins, ridge-piece and ashlar pieces. Arched-bracing springing from carved
angele corbels. The corbels supporting the end trusses have other carved ornament,
including a monogram (S.W.) and St Peter's crossed keys (S.E.). Roof painted and
gilded, including grisaille ornament on the underside of the trusses and on the wall
plate. Chancel walls with elaborate painted decoration (mainly grisaille), including
stencilled fleur-de-lys ornament, vine trails painted onto 2 bands (probably leather)
and painted spandrels between roof corbels. East wall has a painted inscription
below the arched bracing of the end truss: "WHOSO EATETH MY FLESH AND DRINKETH MY
BLOOD HATH ETERNAL LIFE AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP AT THE LAST DAY". Gilded and painted
band (probably leather) above the string course, with painted inscription flanking
the east window: "HOLY HOLY HOLY" (left-hand side) and "LORD GOD OF HOSTS" (right-
hand side). Painted and gilded band above the east window.
C15 granite 3-bay aisle arcade with Pevsner type-A piers, carved limestone capitals
and moulded 4-centred arches. Blocked C15 granite doorway (probably formerly leading
to roof loft) to left of east window of south aisle with moulded depressed arch and
panelled spandrels. Jambs of east window of south aisle extend below the cill.
Large image bracket to right of window and small image bracket to left. Chamfered
ogee-arched piscina in south wall of aisle with segmental bowl (bowl possibly C19).
South windows with splayed jambs and segmental rear arches. South doorway with
chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed rear arch. Tall C15 granite tower arch with 2
chamfers dying into jambs. West window with hollow-chamfered rear arch and west
doorway with depressed rear arch. Doorway to tower stair with hollow-chamfered arch
(C15 granite head and C19 limestone jambs) and C19 plank door with decorative
wrought-iron strap hinges. Roofs of 1868, 3½ bays to nave and 3 bays to chancel.
Nave roof has arched-braced collar trusses springing from stone corbels and secondary
intermediate trusses also with arched-bracing but not springing from corbels. Pairs
of purlins and ridge-piece. Trusses against end walls too. Similar but smaller
aisle roof, without collars and with only one purlin each side. C19 encaustic-tiled
nave floor. Rendered walls. Vestry (mostly filled by later organ) has a trussed
collar rafter roof, window (with desk) and doorway with segmental relieving arches,
and C19 corner fireplace with cast-iron round-arched grate and chamfered chimney-
Fittings: The chancel has complete fittings of circa 1868. Stone reredos of 2:2:2
bays consisting of paired trefoiled moulded blind arches on marble shafts with
foliate capitals and moulded bases, with diaper-patterned spandrels and a roundel
between, the centre 2 arches with a carved bird (probably a dove) and carved flowers
in the spandrels around it. Bands of dogtooth ornament above and between each pair
of arches. Painted inscriptions on metal sheet in each arch, the Commandments in the
left-hand pair and the Lord's Prayer and the Creed in the right-hand pair. The
central 2 arched panels have painted reticulated ornament and a monogram in the head
of each. Carved Gothic altar table with a wide trefoil arch to the centre at the
front. Gilded and painted altar rails of circa 1868 consisting of wrought-iron
supports with colonnettes and leaf brackets and a wooden rail, lifting to the centre.
Wooden choir stalls of circa 1868 (one set in sanctuary at time of survey) with semi-
circular seats, each divided by shafts. Frontals consisting of trefoiled arches with
pieced spandrels divided by colonnettes and ends carved with poppyheads and heraldic
ornament. Large C19 framed painting of Christ in chancel. Octogonal wooden pulpit
of circa 1868 with trefoil-headed panels, brass candlesticks and support for reading
desk, and steps with painted and gilded twisted wrought-iron balustrade. Brass
lectern, erected 1914 in memory of Charles William Hole. Octagonal stone font of
1868 at the west end of aisle with 2 square steps, trefoil-panelled stem with moulded
base, bowl with carved quatrefoil panels, and C19 pyramidal wooden cover suspended by
a chain from the ceiling, with cresting around the sides and finial. Tower screen
made up from reused finely-carved C17 panelling with the remains of a dentil cornice.
Glazing above inserted in 1969. C19 benches have square ends with carved traceried
panels and heraldic ornament. Some surviving C15 bench ends (7 at rear of nave and 2
at rear of aisle) with various traceried panels and heraldic ornament. Large organ
of 1906 on the north side of chancel, extending into vestry behind. Benefactor's
board in vestry, in memory of the Revd. Samuel May (d. Feb 22nd 1782) who left £30 a
year for the poor of the parish.
The stained glass in the chancel, in memory of the Revd. William Walter Gurney, is
all part of the 1868 decorative scheme. East window (dated 1868) depicting Christ in
the centre light flanked by St Peter (left-hand) and St Andrew. The south-east
window depicts St Matthew and St John and the south-west window depicts St Mark and
St Matthew. Probably late C19 or early C20 stained glass in the west window of the
south aisle. The rest of the windows are glazed with diamond-leaded clear glass.
Momuments: Two mid C17 slate tablets on the north wall of the nave, with strapwork
stone surrounds and painted heraldic ornament. The left-hand one is in memory of
Eliza Langford daughter of John Fortesque and wife of Roger Langford (d. 3 August
1643) and the right-hand one is in memory of Sara, wife of John Wollocombe esq. and
daughter of John Fortesque of Weare Gifford (d.26 June 1652).
Six bells in the tower, one of 1706. The whole peal was recast by W. and J. Taylor
of Oxford in 1823 from the previous peal of 5 bells.
A church at Roborough is first mentioned in 1275. There was a west gallery in 1849.
A Norman font is mentioned in 1849 and 1858 but does not survive.
Sources: N. Pevsner, Buildings of England, North Devon, p. 39; Beatrix F. Cresswell,
Notes on Devon Churches, Deanery of Torrington (1924), pp. 191-200; Kelly's Directory
of Devonshire and Cornwall (1914), p.676.
Listing NGR: SS5769217120