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A classification of the current status of the building
This is a unique identification number supplied to each church building by the Church Commissioners.
Name of diocese in which the church building is located at the time of entry.
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The decision to put a church building on the National Heritage List for England and assign it a listing grade is made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The decision is normally based on recommendations made by Historic England, the government’s adviser on the historic environment.
The decision to schedule a feature (building, monument, archaeological remains, etc.) located within the church building’s precinct or churchyard is made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The decision is based on recommendations made by Historic England, the government’s adviser on cultural heritage.
National Parks are areas of countryside that include villages and towns, which are protected because of their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. In England, National Parks are designated by Natural England, the government’s advisor on the natural environment.
Conservation areas are places of special architectural or historic interest where it is desirable to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of such areas. Conservation Areas are designated by the Local Council.
The Heritage at Risk programme is run and managed by Historic England, the government’s advisor on cultural heritage. It aims to protect and manage the historic environment, so that the number of ‘at risk’ historic places and sites across England are reduced.
Selecting a single date for the construction of a church building can sometimes be very difficult as most CoE buildings have seen many phases of development over time. The CHR allows you to record a time period rather than a specific date.
The CHR records the time period for the building’s predominant fabric as opposed to the date of the earliest fabric or the church’s foundation date.
It seems to be the wrong photograph. Provided coordinates come up with another church on geograph.org.uk
2011, April 06
ICBS File Number - 00499
Coverage - 1823-1826
Created by ?W. J. BENTALL
Elevation and Section
If you notice any errors with the below outlines of your connected churchyards, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the corrections needed.
This could include information on new churchyards, edits to the boundaries shown, or different land characteristics.
We are working on adding the consecrated land found within local authority cemeteries, and in time, this data will be shown on the map.
The administrative area within which the church is located.
This field describes the setting of the church building, i.e. the surroundings in which the church building is experienced, and whether or not it makes a positive or negative contribution to the significance of the building.
The parish and priory church of St Mary the Virgin stands in an elevated position on the crest of a long volcanic ridge, on the north side of the High Street and in the north-east corner of the historic town centre of Totnes. The building we see today consists of west tower, aisled nave with outer north aisle and south porch, chancel with flanking chapels and north-east vestry. It is completely of the 15th century and later in the Devon Perpendicular style, its tall pinnacled tower taking full advantage of its dominating location. Together with the Norman castle a short distance to the west the church dominates them town, as has been the case since the late 11th century.
The church stands in the western, raised part of the large rectangular churchyard, which is just within the East Gate of the original town walls, taking up the north-eastern corner of the Saxon Burh and the old town, characterised by its fine 17th-century houses lining the High Street. The churchyard slopes away to the north and east from the church. It is laid to grass, which is kept short. There are only small strips around the western part of the church, but the churchyardopens up to the east, divided into north and south halves by a tarmac path lined by mature Medlar trees which leads to the east gate.
The east gate to the churchyard has gate piers with pyramid caps and iron gates. Similar gates used to exist on the south side but have been removed. The gates to the steps leading down to Guildhall Yard on the north side and Church Walk on the west adjacent to the tower also have such caps. The walls defining the north and east sides of the curtilage are of roughly coursed rubble with weathered copings of granite stone, these are almost certainly older than the 19th century. These walls are listed Grade II in their own right. They revet the raised ground of the churchyard, with a significant drop on the other side to Guildhall Yard and Ramparts Walk (the line of the town wall), which leads down through a narrow passage to the High Street just inside the East Gate of the town.
The path from the east gate swervesaround the south side of the church and leads to the main entrance porch on thesouth side. Here, the “show” side of the church towards the High Street, the churchyard is partly enclosed by houses to the south-east and west buthas a broad forecourt laid with concrete slabs around the south porch, the main entrance to the church. A large granite cross stands here on an octagonal base, the town’s war memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. The forecourt is framed by a short stretch of stepped red sandstone walls with grey limestone copings.
The churchyard was the traditional burial ground for citizens of Totnes, but is not in use today. The monuments are mostly on the north and south side of the church, and all the earliest (onlydating from the early 19th century) are in these parts, with a few chest tombs, some rather dilapidated. There are very few in the eastern part which was cleared in the 1950s, when the churchyard was closed for burial. Paths open to the public run through the churchyard from the east entrance on Ramparts Walk, forking round the church to the High Street and to Guildhall Yard. The churchyard is sufficiently set back from the High Street to provide a pleasantly quiet retreat behind the church.
The row of 3-storey stone town houses on the west side (Church Close) are of the early 19th century. There are slightly older, lower houses encroaching on the churchyard in the southern half of the western boundary. The boundary is defined on the south side by what is now two houses (11-13), which are 16th-century in originand traditionally known as the “Church House”. After the Reformation such houses were owned by the incumbent and Church Wardens as trustees on behalf of the parish, and formed a distinct group of community buildings. It served this function until the 1950s. These buildings are all listed Grade II.
The (Cloth) Exchange built in the early 17th century on the south side of the church hemmed it in completely until the late 19th century, when the Exchange was demolished and its colonnade columns used for the gates to the castle and the loggia to the Guildhall, and other places. Despite the loss of this at Totnes, the churchyard still has something of the feel of a cathedral close in miniature, which is perhaps unsurprising given its monastic origin.
Provide as written description of the ground plan of the church building and well as its dimensions.
The church building consists of a west tower, 4-bay aisled nave with outer north aisle, 2-bay chancel with flanking chapels of one bay, north-east vestry off the chancel, and a south-west porch.
The nave measures 65ft (20m) x 25ft (8m), the aisles are 12 ft (3.5m) wide, the outer north aisle 5m (16ft). The west bay of the chancel and the side chapels are 19ft (6m) long, the protruding sanctuary bay is also 19ft (6m) long. The tower is 5m (16ft) square.
Very Large (>1000m2)
This field aims to record the archaeological potential of the wider area around the building and churchyard, as well as the history of site.
The role of the church in the community has changed several times since the construction of the original church, but it has always been closely involved with it. This was from the beginning an urban foundation, closely bound up with the history of the town and borough of Totnes. The date of origin of the first church building is unclear but there has certainly been a church on the site for over 900, and probably over 1000 years.
The building served the dual function of parish church and priory church after the Norman baron Judhael gave the church to the Benedictine monastic order at some point shortly after the Conquest in 1066. The identification of the church with the priory is part of the self image and history of the town and people of Totnes, and parts of the priory cloister survive in the Guildhall, another iconic Totnes building. St Mary’s is also the municipal church, of which traditional role the Carolean Corporation pews are an obvious symbol. These were situated at the very front of the nave by the screen until the late 19th-century reordering “relegated” them to the second bay from the west. At this time the Totnes coat of arms was carved onto new bench ends for these pews, again symbolic of the church’s civic function. The Town Council still attends the church in full regalia for civic functions.
Totnes is an historic town in south Devon, 10 miles north-west of Dartmouth and 22 miles south-west of Exeter,just to the south-east of Dartmoor and strategically situated on the River Dart.The landscape of the surounding area consists of rolling hills and valleys, dotted with small towns. White’s Devonshire Directory (1850) remarks on the location of Totnes “in the heart of the fruitful district called the South Hams, or garden of Devonshire, which abounds in rich pastures, meadows, corn fields, and orchards…” The area has lost none of its charm in the early 21st century.
Totnes therefore occupies a prime site for settlement and there is archaeological evidence of human activity in the area from at least the Neolithic period. The limited archaeological work in and near the town has generally been in response to development and of a small scale nature. Settlement of the ridge and the river banks by the late Iron Age seems certain, as does some form of Roman presence here.
The foundation of the Saxon royal burh in the early 10th-century, attested by coinage and references in the Burghal Hideage and supported by archaeological evidence from the early 11th, is still the earliest firm evidence for permanent settlement here, and the layout established then can still be confidently traced in the town today.
The volcanic ridge on which the Saxon defended town (burh) was founded in the early 10th century stretches itself along the brow of a volcanic outcrop rising from the west bank of the river, and commands a fine view of the valley and the winding river, but sheltered on every side by higher grounds. This defensive position was exploited after the Norman conquest by Judhael of Totnes and his successors, who established a castle at the west end of the burh. A church is likely to have existed from the foundation of the burh, which was presented to the Benedictines after the Norman Conquest. The castle and the church still dominate the views of Totnes today.
Totnes expanded from the Saxon burh down the hill to the river following the conquest and became one of the wealthiest towns in Medieval and Tudor Devon during the 15th-17thcenturies (second only to Exeter), the town’s wealth built mainly upon the export of wool from sheep reared on nearby Dartmoor, cloth manufacture and the export of locally mined tin and lead and slate, as well as the import of wine from France. The town’s location helped contribute to this success, being both the highest port navigable, and the lowest bridging place on the River Dart.
There are many houses of medieval origin, though all were remodelled or rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries, and this period tends to define the character of the town. Totnes declined thereafter, helping to keep it as one of the best preserved and most attractive small historic towns in England, and of exceptional historical and archaeological significance and potential. The castle and the parish and priory church continue to dominate the town with their physical presence today, and the curtilages of both preserve the best sequences of archaeological stratigraphy in the town, as well as the oldest fabric.
The church may have been founded as early as the 10th century, but was certainly standing by the middle of the 11th century. After the Norman conquest it was presented by Judhael of Totnes to the Benedictine Order, and functioned as a priory and parish church. It was rebuilt in the 12thcentury. The priory may have built a separate chapel or church adjacent in the 13th century. The church was completely rebuilt in the 15th century by the town after an agreement was struck with the priory, the details of which are not yet well understood.
After the Reformation it continued to serve as the parish church of Totnes, the surviving priory buildings were converted to the town’s Guildhall and Grammar School. The church was thoroughly restored and enlarged under the direction of G G Scott in the late 19th century, and reordered under the direction of RH Blacking in the 1950s.
This field aims to record a written description of the exterior of the church building and the churchyard.
The church was wholly rebuilt between 1432 and 1460 in the mature Devon Perpendicular style. With the exception of fragments of 12th- or early 13thcentury carving and other re-used material, no visible fabric remains from earlier buildings on the site. There have been some additions and changes since this date, the most radical of which was the addition of an extra north aisle and the vestry in the late 19th century, but basically this campaign created the church we see today, at least in form.
To begin the description at the west end with the west tower. It is 35m (120 ft) high, and the base is 8m (25 ft) square externally. It was built to the designs of master mason Roger Crowden (or Growden), who may have been responsible for at least the later stages of the work on the church as a whole. The tower was consciously modelled (a delegation including Crowden was sent to inspect these) on the towers at Ashburton, Buckland(probably Buckland Monachorum), Callington and Tavistock which were also built during the office of Bishop Lacy, the closest parallel being Ashburton. The other churches mentioned here are dated by reference to this unusually detailed documentary evidence of the work at Totnes. It elaborates on these predecessors to produce something which has given its name to the “Totnes type” (better described perhaps as a sub-type), perhaps copied for example at Littlehempston and Ipplepen (although the dating is very similar to Totnes and which came first is uncertain), which also have the stair turret on the south side and large pinnacles, often thought a Somerset motif. Ipplepen is indeed an interesting case for comparison, not only rebuilt at the same time and very similar in style and form, but also possessing a stone rood screen with parclose screens. As with the other towers mentioned above the 3-stage tower is sheer, with only the barest definition of the stages in the form of narrow continuous string-courses, simply moulded.
The west face has a continuously moulded depressed Renaissance doorway with quatrefoils in the spandrels within an earlier 4-pointed frame, presumably the original (15thcentury) doorway head. Above this is a large 4- light window with Perpendicular tracery. There is also a stone low down on a buttress in the south face with the letters IR, presumably commemorating some work in the reign of King James I (1603-25), and the west doorway may also be from this period. The east face, half hidden by the nave roof from most angles, has a 2- light pointed window which is clearly a Scott insertion replacing an earlier window, as has the north face. Above this in the east, west, and north faces is an original 3- light opening in Beer stone to the belfry stage, probably the only surviving medieval tracery in the church. These faces have set-back buttresses without weatherings.
The south (High Street) face is of symmetrical composition, with setback buttresses without weatherings flanking a central stair turret with crenellated parapet. The tower is capped by a crenellated parapet and large, polygonal crocketed pinnacles in what appears to be Bath stone or similar rising from the buttresses (most or all replaced at various times). There are single quatrefoil openings at regular intervals up the south face of the turret, and two pointed louvred belfry openings squeezed in between the turret and buttresses.
One aspect which is almost unique to Totnes is the apparent depiction of the benefactors or patrons of the new church in the tower facade itself. The three figures are set within tall rectangular niches, each under a tall ogee crocketed canopy under the string-course. There are carved lions heads as flanking corbels to each niche base. Above the string-course on all faces except the west rise engaged pinnacles, triangular in section.
In the central niche in the turret is what appears to be, most unusually for this period, the bust of a bearded man with a mitre with the inscription underneath “I mad thys tore” (or more probably fote), probably referring to Bishop Lacy whose devices also appears on the chancel screen inside and in the porch (although Cotton thought perhaps it represented God). This might then be the earliest medieval portrait bust surviving in England. It seems unlikely that the present appearance is the result of weathering and a coincidence, therefore either it is indeed unusual, or a fake created either deliberately or out of ignorance at some date after the Reformation. A detailed conservation report on this fascinating feature would be welcome.
The two figures flanking the turret are set into the buttresses in similar niches. On the left is the full but much eroded figure of a knight with crossed legs with his left hand on his sword, for whom the Earl of Devon (one wonders how the colourful and influential Thomas Courtenay, Earl of Devon 1414-1458 would have had the time to be involved) or St George have variously been proposed. Given that the town had formed a Guild of St George to collect money for the rebuilding of the church, the latter seems the most likely explanation. On the right is that of a seated robed figure for whom Prior Stoke has been put forward as a candidate. However, Cotton writing in 1850 thought it a woman, in which case the enthroned Virgin Mary as represented by the priory seal (see cover) is likely, and this would seem a reasonable interpretation. The eroded figure certainly has many similarities, the hands raised, seated on a throne, draped robe. Taken together are meant to symbolise the co-operation of priory, town and Bishop in rebuilding the church, and of its shared use. Little can be said here to add to this question, as all three figures are now very badly eroded.
The aisled nave is of four bays. There is no clearstorey, but the nave roof is steeply pitched and is visible from most angles, whereby the shallow aisle roofs cannot be seen behind the aisle parapets. The two north aisles have a lead valley gutter between them with outlets at each end. All roofs have lead parapet gutters discharging through the walls to external hoppers.
The east and west ends are masked by the chancel and tower, so the nave is “buried” as seen from the outside. Since the interior is whitewashed, this makes it impossible to tell if any masonry from the pre-15th century building survives in the nave (the only possibility for such survival is in the tower arch and footings). The nave and north aisle may preserve or contain the footprint of its Norman predecessor.
The south aisle
The medieval south aisle has diagonal buttresses to the east end and buttresses to each bay, all of two weatherings. It has crenelated parapets in beer stone with gargoyles and moulded pyramid pinnacles to each bay, some of these restored. The medieval gargoyles are easily distinguishable, being severely eroded, from the fresher heads of the (perhaps) 17th century.
The fenestration of all aisle windows is of 4- light 4-centred pointed windows with complex Perpendicular tracery. The central mullion bifurcates to form the inner arms of two arches enclosing the pairs of outer lights, which meet as an ogee and then continue up framing pairs of lozenges. The window in the west wall of the aisle is a 3- light. There is a post-Reformation sundial in the western bay, a simple rectangular inscribed slate tablet with a copper gnomon. Under this a blank Ashburton stone tablet.
The North Aisle
The only part of the original north aisle which can be seen from the outside is the west end, which is pierced by a 3-light pointed window. This has mullions which continue unbroken into the head, similar to the window in the east wall of the outer north aisle. The tracery is badly eroded, which might be due to the presence of the boiler room adjacent to the west, with its modern concrete cap, an ugly intrusion. An octagonal stone outlet for this rises sheer at the junction of the two aisles, adjacent to the window.
The Outer North Aisle
The outer north aisle was added c 1824 and enlarged and remodelled circa1869. It has a separate, shallowly gabled roof covered in lead. As noted above the fabric and the fenestration has clearly been renewed throughout, in a grey stone quite distinct from the medieval masonry. It has a central octagonal stair turret, superfluous since the galleries inside were removed in 1903. It is crenellated in continuation of the aisle parapet in red sandstone, this parapet continues around the north chapel. There are two quatrefoil openings to light the stairs (copied from the tower), entry is through adoorway in the north face with an ogee head. These details belong to the Scott restoration.
The crenellated 3-bay chancel has setback buttresses of two weatherings. The large north-east buttress to the east wall would appear to contain masonry from another structure which the chancel abutted, and there is a short stretch of eroded dog-tooth carving set within it. A now partly blocked pointed tunnel-arch runs diagonally through the buttress. There is also a small blocked pointed doorway in the north wall above this, interpreted as a possible night-stair, for access for the prior and monks.
There are several 20th-century memorial tablets within the blocked passage arches. The east wall has a large 6-light east chancel window with Perpendicular tracery. One bay protrudes beyond the flanking chapels, this has a pointed 4-light window in each side wall. There is a medieval mass or scratch dial with a deep hole for the missing gnomon and radiating grooves on the eastern buttress of the south wall.
A vestry added in the Scott restoration occupies most of the north-west bay. This low flat-roofed block has minimal visual impact as was no doubt intended, its plain parapet at the height of the sills of the blocked chapel windows. The fenestration consists of a 3-light rectangular window in the east wall, the lights with cusped pointed heads, there is a simple pointed doorway in the north wall.
There are roughly symmetrical chancel aisle-chapels, both of two bays, which are structurally continuations of the nave aisles. The eastern bay of both as well as their east windows have been blocked, certainly in the post-medieval period, probably in the late 18thcentury; an 18th-century tablet with pediment is mounted within that to the south chapel. A small square 2-light with a thick unmoulded mullion was inserted through the blocked arch of the south chapel east wall, presumably to light a priest’s room (vestry) at this level. The others are still blind, the blocked pointed window frames are still visible. The surviving western windows are again of four lights, with similar tracery to the aisle windows.
There is a chamfered and partly blocked opening low in the north chapel north wall, perhaps allowing a view of the altar. Note the higher cill, lower head and narrower width to the blocked window. This is also the case with the south chapel windows. This would seem to point to Scott having replaced the original windows with larger, deeper ones. The reason for the discolouration (blackening) of the wall up to the plinth is unclear. This is not seen in the vestry, for example. The protruding east corner below the plinth has been chamfered to meet the vestry wall. The parapet was rebuilt by Scott. There are slate tablets along the foot of the north wall, 20th century.
Access to the church is through the fine gabled south porch, which is of two storeys topped with battlements and pinnacles and framed by diagonal buttresses of two weatherings. The external doorway is pointed with a 2-centred arch and enriched with carved paterae within a hollow chamfer. Above the doorway arch is a 2-light window in a square frame, the lights with cusped heads, lighting the upper room. The sharply pointed gable of grey stone above is carved with three shields, much eroded, the middle one is thought to be the Pomeroy arms, reflecting the fact that the patronage of the church lay with the Earls of Berry Pomeroy (Dukes of Somerset) from the 17th century. There is a stair turret in the east angle with the aisle, which rises slightly above the roof, with a hexagonal lead cap.
This field is an index of the building and its major components
This field is an index of the building’s material composition
This field aims to record a written description of the interior of the church building.
The west tower arch is very tall and sharply pointed compared to the aisle arcades, but is clearly of the same construction phase and identical in moulding details. This may however be at least partly due to the fact that it is much renewed, the arch was in a “much mutilated” state (according to the 1866 appeal) before the restoration.
The upper part of the arch displays the tall white organ console, case, and organ pipes, the lower part of the arch is filled with Blacking’s 1959 dark-stained balcony with doorway under, with double doors opening to the tower space beneath. The floor of this space is laid with the ledger slabs removed by Scott from the main body of the church, mostly the chancel. They are of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, some in the attractive veined Ashburton stone.
A simple pointed doorway with antique door gives access to the tower stair, which has clearly been restored. The ringing chamber is entered through a similar pointed doorway, with round-headed door. It is lined with ringing boards. The belfry stage is entered through another pointed arch. The ring of eight bells is housed in an iron frame. Above this one exits onto the lead-clad roof through a trapdoor, enjoying excellent views of the roofs and surrounding town. The lead has scratched graffiti, some recording repairs.
The Aisled Nave
Looking east from under the tower arch, the interior has more traces of the influence of Bishop Lacy, or perhaps better his cathedral. While Ashburton may have inspired the builders of the tower, the inspiration for the architecture of the interior was probably Exeter cathedral itself. This is most clearly demonstrated by the two defining features, the aisle arcades and the screen, or rather screens, as the main chancel screen is carried round as parclose screens to define the side chapels.
To describe the frame of the interior and the general impression before going into detail. The piers and arches of the arcades and tower arch are left bare stone. The nave aisle arcades are of Beer stone, pointed but only just so (segmental arches as in the windows). The moulded arches are carried on clustered piers of Pevsner’s Devon type B, that is quatrefoil, of four major shafts with minor shafts in the hollows as at Brixham (where the priory had possessions), with much in common with the style of those at the cathedral, despite the century between. The capitals barely interrupt the mouldings as they pass upwards into the arches, being of the appearance and effect of annulets (shaft-rings). The bases are octagonal with tall moulded bases.
There are boarded tunnel-vault roofs with gilded bosses in the nave and chancel, with cross-bracing like that in the porch in the latter of very high quality. The roof is continuous, there is no chancel arch, its place taken by the rood screen. The braces in the chancel are taken down to 11 plainly moulded stone corbels on each side, with angels bearing painted shields above the springing. The nave and aisles are of the same height, the nave aisle roofs flat. The outer north aisle is gabled.
All wall surfaces are whitewashed, and this and the ranks of bench pews which fill the nave and aisles are a defining feature of the visual appearance of the interior, though there are now gaps. The floors are of red and black quarry tiles, some of which are loose. Carpet has been laid at the west end of the south aisle in a reception area here, and there are gentle ramps leading east and north from here.
The large expanses of glass in the aisle and chancel walls helps to balance what could otherwise have been gloomy, the light reflected from the whitewashed walls. The many monuments mounted in rows and ranks on the walls give texture, so that the interior does not appear blank or stark, but mellow and mature.
The outer north aisle is split into zones, with a baptistery around the font at the west end lined with dark-stained benches, a middle zone with information stands, and a children’s chapel at the east end with altar table on a platform and a sitting area around the Blackhall monument in the eastern bays. The floor here is of beige brown artificial stone flags around the font, and woodblock elsewhere. This is all work of Blacking in the 1950s with later changes.
The Medieval Screens
The most significant single element of the furnishings and fittings in the church are the magnificent rood and parclose screens of Beer stone, a major architectural feature. These were erected in 1459-60 by order of the Corporation, who expressly directed that the chancel should be separated from the body of the church by a stone screen as in Exeter Cathedral; again, the influence of Bishop Lacy looms large.
The screens are considered among the finest in this material in Devon, noted for the richness of the tracery, niches, and tabernacle work. The rood screen consists of eight narrow, 2-light bays plus two for the doors to the nave; the sections separating the chancel chapels from the nave have three broader bays with depressed ogee arches, of which the middle ones serve as entrances. The aisle sections are of slightly different design but are contemporary, perhaps added a few years later. All have a coved frieze and thin cornice.
Around the chancel entrance are carved grapes and vine leaves, and over the doorway is a carved angel, suspended as it were from the centre of the arch. Amongst the gilded whorls at the interstices of the cornice tracery there are what appear to be knots descending from the bosses of the cornice vaulting, Bishop Lacy’s symbol. On the south door there are carved scallop shells on the jambs repeated several times; the possible significance of this has already been discussed.
The dado panels at one time held paintings, but these have been obliterated (or painted over?), doubtless after the Reformation. Much polychromy and gilding survives, and much of this would appear to be original, though the screen was restored in 1879; a conservation report on this nationally important screen would be welcome. The doors to the screens may possibly be the originals; this might be the subject of more research.
In front of the screen to the south of the central entrance is the large stone pulpit, not in its original position (described below). A fine Baroque brass candelabrum of 1701 hangs in front of the central entrance to the chancel.
The parclose screens are of also a slightly different design with simpler Perpendicular tracery, and no traces of colouring. They have a blank dado.
The eastern bay of the chancel is filled with the choir stalls, set facing each other across the entrance (collegiatewise). East of these, the stone rood stair turret is a notable feature in itself in rather an unusual position, being situated one bay inside the chancel on the north side. Generally these staircases are on the west side of the screen, and in a few instances on the east side, but close to the screen. Within this is a pointed doorway closed with a modern iron gate leading to a heavily restored staircase and steps. The turret is 5/8 in section, decorated and has niches. It is painted dark red with gilding, which may be of the Scott restoration. An arc is cut out of the wall above the staircase in the chancel, which would have allowed one to exit above to the loft gallery without banging one’s head.
There are three stone steps up to the sanctuary. The oak altar, reredos, the ornate piscina and plain sedilia in the south wall all date to the 1906 reordering, perhaps by John Oldrid Scott. Suffused with coloured light from the stained glass windows, this is not an unattractive scheme, though in no way exceptional.
Adjacent to the rood staircase is a doorway giving access to the Victorian vestry, however this doorway is clearly Medieval (it is shown in Bentall’s 1824 plan). The door frame is pointed (Victorian), set within a depressed arch (Medieval) through the thickness of the wall here. It gave access to the chancel from outside (to the north). The vestry itself has a flat panelled ceiling with moulded beams similar to that in the porch. There is an attractive stone fireplace in the north-west corner, no longer used.
The North Chapel
A blocked doorway previously leading up to the roof survives on the north wall of the north chapel just above the screen, from which it was reached; there is a bulge in the wall to accommodate the steps within. The chapel itself has a 15th-century piscina with ogee arched head and middle shelf in the south wall with traces of paint (behind this wall is the rood stair), and a tomb recess in the north wall. A glazed case in the recess contains the original Bishop Lacy Indulgence, a 17th-century bible and prayer book and explanatory notes. The adjacent external squint is now blocked and invisible from the inside. Today it has an altar table. The blocking of the north chapel windows and the external squint, and probably also the piscina in the north chapel (preserving it) suggest that the traditional functions of this chapel were also lost at the Reformation. A brass candelabrum of 1701 hangs here.
The South Chapel
This is now dedicated to St George and is kept as a chapel for private prayer. It has a squint in the wall to the chancel, see below, which though perhaps restored is certainly medieval.
This field is an index of the building’s internal, architectural components. This includes its internal spaces and those areas’ fixtures and fittings (building components which are securely fixed to the church or cathedral).
This field is an index of the building’s movable, non-fixed furnishings and artworks.
This field aims to record a description of the ecology of the churchyard and surrounding setting.
The everyday wildlife of burial grounds means much to those who visit and cherish them but many burial grounds are so rich in wildlife that they should be designated and specially protected. Few have the legal protection of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or, in the case of local authority owned cemeteries, Local Nature Reserve. This makes it even more important that they are cared for and protected by the people looking after them.
Many have a non-statutory designation as a recognition of their importance. These non-statutory designations have a variety of names in different regions including Local Wildlife Site, County Wildlife Site, Site of Importance for Nature Conservation or Site of Nature Conservation Importance (Local Wildlife Site is the most common name). Their selection is based on records of the most important, distinctive and threatened species and habitats within a national, regional and local context. This makes them some of our most valuable wildlife areas.
For example, many burial grounds which are designated as Local Wildlife Sites contain species-rich meadow, rich in wildflowers, native grasses and grassland fungi managed by only occasional mowing plus raking. When this is the case, many animals may be present too, insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. This type of grassland was once widespread and has been almost entirely lost from the UK with approximately 3% remaining, so burial grounds with species-rich meadow managed in this way are extremely important for wildlife.
These designations should be considered when planning management or change.
If you think that this or any other burial ground should be designated please contact Caring for God’s Acre (email@example.com) to discuss. Many eligible sites have not yet received a designation and can be surveyed and then submitted for consideration.
There are no SSSIs within the curtilage of this Major Parish Church.
There are no Local nature reserves within the curtilage of this Major Parish Church.
There are no Local Wildlife sites within the curtilage of this Major Parish Church.
This field aims to record any evidence of the presence of bats in the church building or churchyard.
This field records basic information about the presence of a churchyard and its use as a burial ground.
Churchyards are home to fantastic trees, in particular ancient and veteran trees which can be the oldest indication of a sacred space and be features of extraordinary individuality. The UK holds a globally important population of ancient and veteran yew trees of which three-quarters are found in the churchyards of England and Wales.
There are more than 1,000 ancient and veteran yews aged at least 500 years in these churchyards.
To put this in context, the only other part of western Europe with a known significant yew population is Normandy in northern France, where more than 100 ancient or veteran churchyard yews have been recorded.
Burial grounds may contain veteran and ancient trees of other species such as sweet chestnut or small-leaved lime which, whilst maybe not so old as the yews, are still important for wildlife and may be home to many other species.
Specialist advice is needed when managing these wonderful trees. For more information or to seek advice please contact Caring for God’s Acre, The Ancient Yew Group and The Woodland Trust.
If you know of an ancient or veteran tree in a burial ground that is not listed here please contact Caring for God’s Acre.
There are currently no Ancient, Veteran or Notable trees connected to this Major Parish Church
This field is an index of the churchyard’s components.
Significance is the whole set of reasons why people value a church, whether as a place for worship and mission, as an historic building that is part of the national heritage, as a focus for the local community, as a familiar landmark or for any other reasons.
This information forms part of the Shrinking the Footprint project.
All of the species listed below have been recorded in close proximity to the
Major Parish Church
. A few species which are particularly threatened and affected by disturbance may not be listed here because their exact location cannot be shared.
NOTE: Be aware that this dataset is growing, and the species totals may change once the National Biodiversity Network has added further records. Species may be present but not recorded and still await discovery.
Caring for God’s Acre is a conservation charity working to support groups and individuals to investigate, care for, and enjoy the wildlife and heritage treasures found within churchyards and other burial grounds. Look on their website for information and advice and please contact their staff directly. They can help you manage this churchyard for people and wildlife.
To learn more about all of the species recorded against this church, go to the Burial Ground Portal within the NBN Atlas. You can check the spread of records through the years, discovering what has been recorded and when, plus what discoveries might remain to be uncovered.
If any of the following species have been seen close to the Major Parish Church, it is important to seek advice from an expert. You will need to know if they are present now, and to follow expert recommendations when planning works. All of these species have specific legal protection as a recognition of their rarity. All of them are rare or becoming increasingly endangered, so it is important to ensure that management and other works do not adversely affect them. In addition, there may be things you can do to help these special species. N.B. Swift and House Martin do not have specific legal protection but are included, as roof repair works often impact breeding swifts and house martins which is against the law.
This is not a complete list of protected species, there are many more, but these are ones that are more likely to be found. All wild birds, their nests and eggs are also protected by law, as are all bats and veteran trees. In a few cases, species are considered particularly prone to disturbance or destruction by people, so the exact location of where they were recorded is not publicly available but can be requested. These ‘blurred’ records are included here, and the accuracy is to 1km. This means that the species has been recorded in close proximity to the
Major Parish Church, or a maximum of 1km away from it. As these ‘blurred’ species are quite mobile, there is a strong likelihood that they can occur close to the
Major Parish Church. To learn about these special species, use the link provided for each species in the table below
One important species which is not included here is the Peregrine Falcon. This is protected and advice should be sought if peregrines are nesting on a church or cathedral. Peregrine records are ‘blurred’ to 10km, hence the decision not to include records here. Remember too that species not seriously threatened nationally may still be at risk in your region and be sensitive to works. You should check with local experts about this. You may also need to seek advice about invasive species, such as Japanese knotweed and aquatics colonising streams or pools, which can spread in churchyards.
N.B. If a species is not recorded this does not indicate absence. It is always good practice to survey.
Caring for God’s Acre can help and support you in looking after the biodiversity present in this special place. If you know that any of these species occur close to the
Major Parish Church and are not recorded here, please contact Caring for God’s Acre with details (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To find out more about these and other species recorded against this
Major Parish Church, go to the Burial Ground Portal within the NBN Atlas.
The church was the centre of many people’s lives and remains a guide to their cares and concerns. Glimpses into those lives have often come down to us in the stories we heard as children or old photographs discovered in tattered shoe boxes. Perhaps your ancestors even made it into local legend following some fantastic event? You can choose to share those memories with others and record them for future generations on this Forum.
Tell us the story of this building through the lives of those who experienced it. Tell us why this church is important to you and your community.
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