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HER Number:MDV1313
Name:St. Disen's Church, Bradninch


Originally dedicated to St. Denis, the present church is mainly 15th and 16th century in date but incorporates earlier work. It was restored in the 19th century. Across the nave is a15th century screen with 52 panels painted in the 16th century but retouched in the 19th century.


Grid Reference:SS 999 041
Map Sheet:SS90SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBradninch
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBRADNINCH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 4924
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS90SE/25
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 95205

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (XI to XIX - 1001 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Thompson, A. H., 1913, Church Architecture in Devon, 474, 475 (Article in Serial). SDV15387.

Unknown, 1928, Bradninch Church, 155-156 (Article in Serial). SDV347415.

Unknown, 1931, Proceedings at the Seventieth Annual Meeting held at Exeter, 23rd June, 1931, 44-45 (Article in Serial). SDV347412.

Parish Church of St. Dionysius, more properly St. Disen, an Irish missionary. Fragments of Norman fabric are thought to exist in the walls of the chancel and the eastern wall of the south aisle. The succeeding Early English building covered all the space between the present chancel and the tower, but the diminutive chancel, on its Norman foundations, belongs to an earlier and smaller building which may have been built by Richard, Baron of Bradnes. The present perpendicular church was built 1422-1491. The lower part of the tower is older than the upper; the tower was built before the enlargement of the church and the construction of the arcading. With widening of the nave and the construction of the north aisle the tower ceased to be central. The glory of the church is its screen, one of the best in the county, which runs obliquely across the church. It is dated between 1450 and 1480. An inscription on the eastern side indicates that it was painted in 1528. The screen is divided into 52 panels. The north side shows the Saints Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great and Ambrose, and then twelve sibyls. On the pedestals are figures, perhaps brought from the Levant, of St. James the apostle and an unknown saint. The central door shows the annunciation, salutation, temptation, expulsion from paradise, Samson, Deborah, Samuel, David and the Christ Child. The rest of the figures are unknown. The Royal arms placed over the screen in 1620 are now in the Guildhall. The screen was restored in 1843 and recoloured in 1853. The smaller parclose screen in the south chancel aisle was once on the northern side and shut off the chapel of St. John the Baptist, where the organ now stands. In 1841 it was removed to the tower arch and to its present position recently. At the eastern end of the south aisle was the chantry chapel of Sir Walter de Cornubia and the carved panel now built into the wall near the chancel arch is perhaps from the altar of that chapel. In the vestry is a piscina brought from Trinity Chapel was was demolished in 1876. One of the windows in the chancel dates from 1511-23.

Unknown, 1934, Bradninch Church, 44 (Article in Serial). SDV347413.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 59 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Tall buttressed tower with stair turret. North and south aisles buttressed with large three light windows. South porch of 1881. Fan vaulted rood screen of type A.

Copeland, G. W., 1964, Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting, 23 (Article in Serial). SDV57390.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/ES, 6A (Aerial Photograph). SDV337671.

Department of Environment, 1986, Bradninch, 10-11 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337715.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 200 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Griffith, F. M., 1991, DAP/UF, 5-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV57442.

Blaylock, S. R., 2003, Archaeological Recording of the Figure Sculpture on the Tower of the Church of Our Lady, Upton Pyne, 11 (Report - non-specific). SDV61801.

Two niches on the west and east faces of the tower of St. Disens Church in Bradninch once housed medieval stone sculptures.

Watts, S., 2010, St. Disen's Church, Bradninch. A Brief History and Description (Leaflet). SDV347417.

Originally dedicated to St. Denis, the parish church of Bradninch became more popularly known as St. Disen's in the late 19th century. The actual date of the church's foundation is unknown although in 1208 King John granted the Lord of the Manor the right to hold a fair on St. Denis' Day. The present building is mainly 15th and 16th century in date but incorporates some earlier work. The church was partially rebuilt in 1841 when the nave and aisles were heightened but the nave roof dates from further restoration that took place in 1889. Monuments in the church include a marble double oval inscription panel in the chancel erected in 1679 in memory of Peter Sainthill. The Royal Arms above the tower screen commemmorate the visit of King Edward in 1936. The reredos behind the altar is a memorial to Dr. Charles Croslegh. The font dates from 1842 and the pulpit from 1889. The pride of the church is its great screen dated to the 15th century and bearing paintings of the 16th century, the paintwork renewed in the 19th century. The rood above the screen is modern. The original rood was destroyed in the 17th century and the heraldic head-piece that replaced in in 1620 was removed to the Guildhall when the church was restored in 1841. Between the chancel and the Lady Chapel is a smaller screen that oriringally formed the northern parclose between the chancel and the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, where the organ is now placed. The window in the Lady Chapel was designed by a parishioner as a memorial to her parents.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 900171 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV347416.

Mainly 15th/early 16th century. Other details: SS90SE31. Record last updated: N/A.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

Parish Church of St Dionysius (formerly listed as Church of St Disen). Parish church. Mainly of the 15th and early 16th century, but with earlier masonry surviving in chancel, and possibly the base of the tower. Restored 1806; partially rebuilt (nave and aisles heightened, piers reconstructed, south wall re-erected) 1841; restorations by Hayward, 1881, 1889. Coursed rubble volcanic trap. West tower, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, chancel, north-west and north-east vestries.
Exterior: tall west tower (90 feet), the belfry dating from 1437. Four stages with battlementing and corner pinnacles, except to the south-east where the polygonal corner stair turret, separately battlemented, rises even higher. Set-back angle buttresses with 4 set-offs. 2-light pointed belfry openings, each light cusped with quatrefoil in head. Cinquefoil-headed niche under square hood mould with elaborate quatrefoil motifs to 2nd stage, east; 2-light openings, 2nd stage, north and south, lighting ringing chamfer; cinquefoil-headed statue niche above 4-light west window, Perpendicular west door 1841 under heavily moulded arch. Hayward's tower vestry to the north, hipped roof to north, with west door and adjacent segmentally-headed window, and 2 similar windows to north. South aisle: 6 bays (including porch, 1881); buttresses with 2 set-offs, those at angles set diagonally, between 3-light Perpendicular windows. 3-light east and west window. North aisle: 6 bays, no porch, but otherwise as south. 3-light west window. Tracery and mullions of all windows look largely 19th century; the slightly unusual proportions of the side elevations are the result of the heightening of 1841. Chancel: 2-light north window: 3-light east window, set high up; 3-light south window with hood mould terminals, one bearing a shield (identified by Stabb as of Richard Norton, Precentor of Exeter Cathedral, 1512-24). Lower courses of chancel masonry may be 13th century or earlier. 19th century north-east castellated vestry with 2-light square-headed east window. 19th century priest's door to south.
Interior: nave and choir of 6 bays, with no structural division, with unaisled sanctuary. Piers with double wavy-moulding; floriated capitals (including a Green Man) some of them, especially on the south arcade, of very high quality. Canopied niche on one of the north aisle piers. West capital of south arcade is different from the others, bearing shields and fleurons. Tower arch, 3 shafts to each respond, with separate capitals. Internal shafts to window arches. Chancel arch with nave pier profile. No internal shafts to chancel window arches; south window arch brought down to form sedilia.
Roofs: Ceiled to nave and chancel, principals with arched braces, nave with king posts and panelled wall plate; flat ceiled roof to aisles: all 19th century.
Screens: (1) parclose, to south, originally demarcated the chapel of St Nicholas Guild, is the earlier of the 2 medieval screens, probably mid-C15; 4 bays, the central pair wider, 3 cusped lights to each bay, with chunky foliage in spandrels; contemporary painted panels below.
(2) Rood Screen: 12 bays, piers encased to form canopied figure niches (containing 17th century figures) to west, 4 lights to each bay, cusped with shields (cf.Rewe); coving with 3-tiered cornice, and 19th centurty frieze. Painted figures in panels are of a variety of period, early 16th, 17th and 19th century; the rear cornice survives, with painted abstract designs to panels. Restored by Bradley of Exeter, 1853. Furnishings: Stone pulpit of 1888. Altar table, wooden, of circa 1600. South aisle altar frontal incorporates 16th century work. 19th century benches and choir stalls.
Monuments: Chancel, north aisle : 2 large oval inscription panels with architrave under broken segmental pediment, black and white marble, to Peter Seynthill (died 1648), erected 1679. South aisle, west wall: elegant stone plaque to Thomas Pearse (died 1830).
Glass: Good set of patterned glass in aisles by Drake (sequence completed 1872); excellent Doom in west window, by Clayton and Bell, 1880. East window (not dated) by Ward and Hughes; south aisle, south-east, by Hardman (circa 1850). A piscina from the now demolished chapel at Trinity (Bradninch Parish) has been re-set in the north-east vestry. Date listed 5th April 1966; amended 11th June 1986.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV15387Article in Serial: Thompson, A. H.. 1913. Church Architecture in Devon. Archaeological Journal. 70. Unknown. 474, 475.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 200.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 59.
SDV337671Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/ES. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 6A.
SDV337715List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1986. Bradninch. Historic Houses Register. Website. 10-11.
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV347412Article in Serial: Unknown. 1931. Proceedings at the Seventieth Annual Meeting held at Exeter, 23rd June, 1931. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 63. A5 Hardback. 44-45.
SDV347413Article in Serial: Unknown. 1934. Bradninch Church. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 80. Unknown. 44.
SDV347415Article in Serial: Unknown. 1928. Bradninch Church. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 74.1. Unknown. 155-156.
SDV347416National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 900171. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV347417Leaflet: Watts, S.. 2010. St. Disen's Church, Bradninch. A Brief History and Description. Leaflet.
SDV57390Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1964. Proceedings at the 102nd Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 96. A5 Paperback. 23.
SDV57442Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 5-9.
SDV61801Report - non-specific: Blaylock, S. R.. 2003. Archaeological Recording of the Figure Sculpture on the Tower of the Church of Our Lady, Upton Pyne. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.53. A4 Stapled + Digital. 11.

Associated Monuments

MDV107139Parent of: Bradninch Boer War Memorial, St Disen's Church (Monument)
MDV1589Parent of: COMMEMORATIVE STONE in the Parish of Bradninch (Monument)
MDV1315Parent of: Rood Screen in St. Disen's Church Bradninch (Building)
MDV1588Parent of: Sainthill Monument (Find Spot)
MDV105873Parent of: World War I Memorial Plaque, St Disen's Church (Monument)
MDV105874Parent of: World War II Memorial Board, St Disen's Church (Monument)
MDV1231Related to: CHAPEL in the Parish of Bradninch (Monument)
MDV1314Related to: Cross south of St Disen's Parish Church , Bradninch (Building)
MDV35722Related to: GATE in the Parish of Bradninch (Building)
MDV7361Related to: St. Disen's Hall, Bradninch (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 4 2018 12:20PM