Eight favourite ru­ral Devon churches

Timeless Travels Magazine - - BRITAIN -

Cole­brooke, Cen­tral Devon.

Two of the county’s finest 15th cen­tury carv­ings are here. The strange fig­ures of two Wild­men, or per­haps a Wild­man and a fool, dom­i­nate two bench ends near the al­tar. The screen separat­ing the Co­ple­stone Chantry is par­tic­u­larly fine and has a fire­place (now bricked up) which will have kept their lord­ships warm dur­ing win­ter ser­vices.

Combein­teign­head, South Devon.

El­iz­a­bethan carved bench ends and pop­py­heads (carved in the round) are the fea­ture here, many of enig­matic sub­jects in­clud­ing an ob­scure an­i­mal.

Dod­dis­comb­sleigh, South Devon.

In ad­di­tion to the Devil’s Bite carv­ing, here are some of the old­est stained glass win­dows in the county, in­clud­ing a touch­ing por­trayal of a tired-look­ing St Paul shad­ing his eyes af­ter this con­ver­sion, and St Ge­orge on a tiny horse which looks more like a sheep.

East Budleigh, East Devon.

Here, in the carved bench ends, are some of the best ex­am­ples of vil­lage art in the county. The va­ri­ety and imag­i­na­tion of the sec­u­lar sub­jects defy de­scrip­tion but it is par­tic­u­larly fa­mous for one of a woman eat­ing a banana. Or maybe a chicken drum­stick. Or... who knows? Ex­perts dif­fer.

Hac­combe, South Devon.

Fields sur­round this tiny church which is full of mon­u­ments to the fam­ily that lived in the nearby manor house. It also has some me­dieval stained glass win­dows and the re­mains of a wren’s nest hid­den in the pul­pit.

Hor­wood, North Devon.

This lit­tle ru­ral church is crammed with art, from bench ends to fine let­ter­ing and angels on the ledger stones on the floor. But it is the stone carv­ings on the cap­i­tals above the pil­lars which stand out. They in­clude death’s heads, angels, and crea­tures that are half-hu­man, half beast.

Lup­pitt, East Devon.

The Black Hills. An­other small church dom­i­nat­ing a ham­let in East Devon with an ex­cep­tional Nor­man font, thought to be a thou­sand years old, dec­o­rated with sec­u­lar images.

Taw­stock, North Devon.

An out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of a church in the grounds of the Big House (in this case, the Earls of Bath). Ev­ery bit of spare space is oc­cu­pied by their mar­ble memo­ri­als, each try­ing to outdo the other in or­nate mag­nif­i­cence. The carved bench ends are also ex­cep­tion­ally bizarre.

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