Eight favourite rural Devon churches
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.