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HER Number:MDV10718
Name:Offwell, St Marys Parish Church


Parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Offwell with 13th century origins, rebuilt in the 15th century with 19th century refurbishments.


Grid Reference:SY 194 995
Map Sheet:SY19NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishOffwell
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOFFWELL

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 4967
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY19NE/32
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 88785

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

NMR, SY19NE35 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV97615.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 13C origins but mostly rebuilt in 15C. West tower is 15C. Nave, chancel & chapel much restored by Copleston (d1849). Early 19C south porch & late 19C vestry on south side of chancel. Listed Grade 1 (citing DoE & Cherry & Pevsner).

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 446 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Parish church, Offwell. St Mary. A 15th century church much restored in early 19th century.

English Heritage, 1955, Offwell, LBS No 88785 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV322066.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Offwell. Parish church. 13C origins and some parts may be that early but most was rebuilt in the 15C, much restored by the Reverend Edward Copleston, Bishop of Llandaff and Dean of St Pauls (d1849), and refurbished in 1874 according to dated rainwater head. Local stone and flint rubble with Beerstone quoins and detail; slate roof. Plan: the nave with narrower and lower chancel is not quite full length; the chapel is now used as a bapistry. 15C west tower. Early 19C south porch and late 19C vestry on south side of the chancel. Exterior: the west tower is 2 stages with diagonal buttresses, embattled parapet and semi-octagonal stair turret projecting from the north side. The belfry has single and double lancets with Beerstone grilles. The tower west doorway is a 2-centred arch with moulded surround and directly above is a 3-light window with Perpendicular tracery. Around the church most of the windows were replaced in the 19C and the gable-ends have 19C shaped kneelers, coping and apex crosses. The south side of the nave is 3 bays, the centre one with the doorway and gabled porch with diagonal buttresses. The outer arch is a 2-centred arch in Early English style; moulded surround with caps to the shafts, a band of ballflower decoration and hoodmould with badges carved on the label stops. Above is an old sundial. The porch has a cobbled floor and the south doorway is a plain 2-centred arch. Either side of the porch are square-headed 3-light windows with trefoil-headed lights (there are 3 more on the north side of the aisle). The south side of the chancel has a single rectangular light since most of this side lies behind the 19C gabled vestry which contains a window with decorated tracery. The east end of the chancel has a large 3-light window with Perpendicular tracery and there are similar windows each end of the aisle. Interior: both nave and aisle have ceiled wagon roofs with moulded purlins and ribs. These maybe 15C but the carved bosses at least are 19C replacements. The chancel has a plaster vault of indeterminate date. Tall tower arch with moulded surround. The chancel arch is round (almost horseshoe shaped) headed with chamfered surround. 3-bay arcade with moulded Beerstone piers (Pevsners type A) and carved capitals. A fourth arch between chancel and north chapel has its soffit and sides lined with Beerstone trefoil-headed panels. The walls are plastered and the floor flagged. 19C Beerstone reredos is a blind Gothic arcade. The sedelia to south of the sanctuary and piscina to north are the same style. 19C oak altar rail on Gothic style timber standards. The stalls are 19C but made up from the 18C stalls with fielded panelling. The lectern was made in 1935 but includes some good 17C oak carving including a panel representing the Last Supper. The fine 3-decker pulpit was erected in 1724 and is missing only its sounding board. The carved figures of the Evangelists were added to the panels in 1784. It is said to conceal the stone base of the previous pulpit. The box pews were installed in 1798 but reconstructed in 1853. The tower screen is 2 bays of a good 15C oak chancel screen which came from the Church of St Mary Major, Exeter in 1970. The font is in the former north chapel. It is late 15C - early 16C, Beerstone with octagonal bowl carved with quatrefoil panels enriched with 4-leaf motifs, carved foliage around the base and panelled stem. It has a late 17C oak cover with broken ogee profile and surmounted by an eagle with a hook for the former hoisting chain. The reredos here is a fine piece of carved 16C oak panelling; the centre panel is a representation of Jesus carrying the cross and the flanking panels have representations of the Evangelists. The carvings which may be Flemish were brought here by Bishop Copleston. Monuments: the oldest, in the aisle, is in memory of Joana Southcott (d. 1696); the plaque has a bolection frame under a swan-necked pediment and cartouche containing armorial bearings and the apron below is carved foliage. Over the south door a memorial to John Ford (d1729) and his wife Mary (d1742). The chancel contains a group of 19C marble memorials mostly to members of the Copleston family. Royal arms were painted in 1974 and some painted texts were retouched at the same time. 19C painted commandment boards either side of the south door. The chancel south window is a collection of fragments of ancient glass and there is some 18C stained glass in the tracery of the chapel east window. Some 19C stained glass (Source: Church guide).

Lamb, S., 1957, Some notes on 18th century furnishings in the parish churches of Devon, 218 (Article in Serial). SDV65364.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 607 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No.712 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Parish Church of Blessed Virgin Mary. C13 origins but mostly rebuilt C15. Listed Grade I.

Horner, W., 2006, Offwell Parish Church (Correspondence). SDV351561.

Correspondence regarding the discovery of decorated text beneath the plaster at Offwell Church.

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 446.
SDV322066List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 1955. Offwell. Historic Houses Register. LBS No 88785.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 607.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #66699 ]
SDV351561Correspondence: Horner, W.. 2006. Offwell Parish Church. Email and note. Digital.
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No.712.
SDV65364Article in Serial: Lamb, S.. 1957. Some notes on 18th century furnishings in the parish churches of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 218.
SDV97615National Monuments Record Database: NMR. SY19NE35. SY19NE.

Associated Monuments

MDV106927Parent of: Offwell World War I Memorial Plaque and Roll of Honour (Monument)
MDV82326Parent of: Offwell World War II Memorial Hymn Board (Monument)
MDV10719Parent of: St Marys Church, Pulpit (Monument)
MDV10720Parent of: St Marys Church, Sundial (Monument)
MDV71463Related to: St Marys Church, Dommet Tomb (Building)
MDV71464Related to: St Marys Church, Pavey Headstone (Building)
MDV71465Related to: St Marys Church, Wall & Steps (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 24 2017 12:12PM