Listed building grade 2*
8 Fore St
50°54’23.0″N 3°19’34.4″W (enter these in your smartphone navigator)
This pretty little town church was extensively renovated by the Victorians, and the outside shows this. It has a lot of Neo-Gothic touches, and looks wonderful in its flower-decked churchyard.
Inside is another matter, with various eras taking a bow.
The north arcade is early fourteenth century build from ancient Ham stone, and the southern one is fifteenth. Unusually there is an outer south aisle from the nineteenth century which copies the inner one.
The rood screen is a major star here, one of the earliest in Devon, probably before 1420. It is a wonder, still with its original colouring and stencilling, thick ribbed and deeply carved, and strong vaulting which used to support the rood loft.
The north chapel has a magnificence of carvings, both stone and wood. The altar has some very impressive late sixteenth renaissance style wood figures and foliage, probably brought from somewhere else and put together here.
The monuments of four generations of the Walrond family are just top-hole. All coloured, some in their original colouring, some more recent but still following the correct palette. The faces of the people are so very expressive, and the gorgeous caryatids on the tomb are just Devon to a T, farming lasses taking life by the horns.
Down the nave is the tower screen, which for my money is the best piece here, not least because it so unexpected. The sixteenth century figures are redolent of Polynesia and Asia, and show how far removed from us that era’s culture is.
The pulpit has a marvellous Flemish carving of the Ascension on it, again probably brought in and placed here at a later date.
The chancel is a grand Victorian creation in red, with a near psychedelic East window. Breathtaking.
- West tower & spire
- North & south aisles, outer south aisle
- North and south porches
- North and south chapels
- Vestry to north of chancel.
- North arcade and tower arch early C14
- North wall masonry and parts of the chancel early C14
- Chapels and south aisle arcade early C15
- Rood screen early C15.
- North aisle and nave roofs C18
- Chancel roof and furnishings 1843
- Outer south aisle 1846-7
- West tower and spire rebuilt, using some medieval material, 1849
- By John Hayward of Exeter
- Hayward also designed the magnificent Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter
- Coursed rubble limestone
- Slate roof
- C13 arcade is of Ham Hill stone
- 3 stages
- Corner buttresses with set-offs
- 2-light pointed Decorated belfry windows
- Lancets to bellringing chamber
- West doorway with 2-centred arch and hoodmould
- Clock in recessed stone roundel
- Faces west
- Corbel table with (mainly 1840s) heads
- Corner pinnacles on broaches
- 2-light openings
- West window, 4-light C19 Perpendicular with transom
- North side of 5 bays
- Including battlemented porch with parvise approached by external stairs
- 3-light Perpendicular windows retain some medieval detail
- 3-light east window
- 4-light east chancel window
- 3-light windows of south aisle and the porch
- 4-light east and west aisle windows
- 4-bay arcades
- 3 bays of north arcade with double chamfered arches
- Circular piers
- Moulded capitals and bases
- Similar treatment of tower arch
- North aisle to chancel with wide arch, similar in detail to south aisle arcade
- South arcade wavy moulding to arches and piers
- Shafts at principal points,
- Separate capitals.
- Outer aisle arcade a copy of the C15 one
- North aisle and nave roofs ceiled with moulded plaster cornice
- Ceiled wagon roof to chancel with ceilure over sanctuary
- Plaster ribs
- South aisle roof panelled, and looks late C19
- Outer aisle, unceiled wagon roof
- Although this may incorporate some medieval fragments it is almost entirely Hayward’s work
- The dimensions preclude the possibility of its having been moved from another part of the church (as is generally believed to be the case)
- Main screen 17 bays
- It is fully discussed by Bond and Camm
- Probably pre-dates the screen at Halberton (1420) albeit only slightly
- Complete with coving, cornice and brattishing
- The extension across the outer south aisle is a remarkable piece of high-class craftmanship of the mid C19
- The 3 north bays are of 1828
- C19 north parclose
- C16 panelling from elsewhere, reset in north-east chapel (Walrond Chapel)
- And as a tower screen
- Dated 1715
- An un-Devonian Wren-Gibbons style piece (as remarked upon by Pevsner)
- Polygonal stone font
- By Knight
- Reredos and stone altar table form an attractive ensemble
- Carved by Knight
- Sanctuary piscina
- East window of 1849
- Seating arrangements completely re-ordered,
- Altar brought forward
- Seating arranged in a half circle around it
- North chancel chapel
- Tomb chest of 1663
- Portrait medallions set between pilasters with caryatids
- All a little Baroque in feel
- Now placed on and above the chest, 2 half-length busts, and an effigy of a man.
- Early C19 mural monuments in sanctuary.
- Pair of mural monuments either side of the north door
- Each with a swathed urn,
- Both erected in 1810
- Conceived as a matching pair, commemorating various individuals
Externally a striking church, with a very un-Devonian west steeple; the impact it makes is almost entirely the result of Hayward’s extensive restoration, extension, and large scale rebuilding of 1846-9.
The early C14 arcade is a comparative rarity in the county.
The rood screen is famous – the longest in Devon, but part of it is C19 – and a good example of early C15 work, ie. before the bulk of Devon screens were produced.
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