Listed building grade 1
Church of St James
50°43′39″N 4°21′50″W (enter these in your smartphone navigator)
A tiny gem tucked away deep in West Devon down a dead end road ending in a farmyard; totally delicious.
It is very well cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, who tend to keep their churches very simple and very beautiful, and here they do that in spades.
The nave and chancel are one, and the side windows are clear glass, so the light is very special and the colours are fascinating. The varied browns of the pews and altar, the shades of white of the walls, the glimpses of granite… need I go on?
The roofbosses are worth a good look too. The guide says they are 15th century, I suspect they are 18th but the main thing is that they rock.
There’s a stained glass East Window and an old granite font, and an 18th century south door that could have come direct from a local farm.
Outside has some of the original windows from the 15th century rebuild and sash windows on the north side. I’ve never seen sash windows in a church before, and they work here partly because we know how sparsely populated this parish was, and how poor, and it must have been the cheapest option.
Take time to visit here if you will. Certainly not the easiest church to find, but such a one to sit and sink into the silence.
- A very small church
- West tower
- No internal or external division
- South west porch
- Some C15 features
- Largely rebuilt in the late C18
- C20 renovations.
- The dimensions of the building may be C13
- Extant fabric retains some late C15 Perpendicular features
- Thoroughly rebuilt in the late C18 (datestones of 1761 and 1791)
- Plain Gothic style reusing old masonry
- Modest C19 restoration
- Rebuilding of the east wall possibly by J.P. St Aubyn
- C20 renovations
- The masonry and plinth suggest a long history of rebuilding
- Stone rubble
- Granite and polyphant dressings
- Slate roof
- C19 crested ridge tiles
- Small unbuttressed battlemented 2-stage
- Not tied in to the nave masonry
- Obelisk pinnacles on square bases with obelisk finials.
- Slate on the south side inscribed “This Tow’r was Rebuilt by Richard Sillifant Mason in 1791. John Venner. Ch. Warden. Edmund Spetigue. Peek. John Trible Worden.
- Pevsner comments that without the inscription the style of the tower would not show its date.
- West face of the tower has a cinquefoil-headed 1-light chamfered window
- Below a cambered granite hoodmould with a brick arch above.
- North and south faces have 2-light square-headed timber belfry windows
- Slate louvres and flat stone arches
- Datestone of 1761
- 2 late C15 2-light square-headed granite windows
- Cusped lights, hoodmoulds and label stops
- Gabled with bargeboards covered by decoratively-cut slates
- Deeply recessed 3-light granite Perpendicular window
- Cusped lights
- Heavily-moulded architrave, hoodmould and label stops
- Foliage carved late C15 wallplate
- Probably originally sited inside the church
- Remarkable for having its medieval windows replaced with two 24-pane sashes
- Probably dating from 1761, or earlier in the C18
Sashes have heavy glazing bars
- Ovolo-moulded to the interior
- Single lancets to the north and south
- Unmoulded round-headed outer doorway
- Arch with stone voussoirs springing from plain imposts
- The porch roof plastered in the C20
- Inner doorway is moulded polyphant with a segmental head
- Rendered walls
- Semi-circular tower arch probably C18
- No chancel arch
- Circa late C15 (?) boarded waggon roof
- Carved bosses and chamfered ribs carved with flowers
- Some ancient colour survives.
- The moulded wallplates are either late C19 or C20 replacements
- Probably contemporary with the metal ties.
- East end fittings have been removed.
- Plain octagonal granite font on octagonal stem
- Could be medieval.
- Set of plain C19 benches with rectangular ends.
- Several C17 ledger stones pave the nave.
- South west door is probably early C18
- 4 fielded panels
- Massive hinges with gudgeon hooks.
- Church said to have pre-Reformation bells
Access to the church is through the farmyard of Luffincott Barton (qv), and the church forms an attractive group with the Barton and associated farm buildings.
The C18 rebuilding of the church (and the sash windows) is of considerable historic interest in a county where C18 renovations have usually been obscured by mid to late C19 restoration.
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