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HER Number:MDV15182
Name:St James Church, Jacobstowe


A church appears to have originally been built here probably in the 10th or 11th century. The foundations of the western apsidal end of a late Saxon church were revealed during excavations for floor repairs of the present church in 2015 and the foundations of another wall which appeared to be contemporary were revealed during groundworks in 2019. The pre-conquest church was demolished in the 12th century and refgvplaced by a new stone church. This in turn was modified in the later medieval period including the addition of the present roof. A tower was added in the 15th or 16th century. The church was restored and the chancel extended in 1902-3.


Grid Reference:SS 586 016
Map Sheet:SS50SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishJacobstowe
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishJACOBSTOWE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 5142
  • National Monuments Record: SS50SE11
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS50SE/13
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 93278

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (XII to Edwardian - 1101 AD to 1902 AD) + Sci.Date

Full description

Jonathan Rhind Architects, St James, Jacobstowe, Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV351847.

Grade II* listed parish church with 13th century medieval origins, predominantly 15th century
construction with early 20th century restoration works. Urgent repairs are required to replace raised timber floors and pews in the West end of the Nave which have collapsed due to decay. See report for full details.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 109 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 417 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Jacobstowe parish church, dedicated to St James. Restored in 1902.

Department of Environment, 1988, Jacobstowe, 91 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV356170.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 511 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Lane, R., 2013, Jacobstowe Church - Another Possible Excavation Opportunity (Article in Serial). SDV360669.

After the collapse of pew platforms the decision was made to use this as an opportunity for repairs. The plan is to dig 12-15inches down into the nave.

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

English Heritage, 2013, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV350785.

Parish church. C12 origins but main fabric dates to C15, restored and extended in 1902 - 3. Stone rubble walls with granite ashlar to buttresses and upper stage of tower. Gable ended slate roof. Plan: Nave, chancel, west tower and south porch, vestry on south side of chancel. The church dates back to the C12 from which the south doorway and the font are the only recognisable feature although some of the fabric of the nave may also be similarly early. There was evidently a major remodelling in the C15 when the tower was added. In 1902-3 the church was restored, the chancel lengthened by 5 feet and the vestry probably added on its south side. Exterior: 3 stage battlemented west tower with crocketted pinnacles and diagonal buttresses. Granite 4-centred west doorway, hollow and roll moulded with incised scroll stops. Its hoodmould has armorial shields in its labels. C17 or earlier studded plank door with moulded cover strips and foliage carving in its head. 3- light granite Perpendicular west window. North side of nave has C15 2-light mullion window with 2-centred heads restored 1 and 2-light window of similar style to either side. C17 2-light mullion window between them. 3-light Perpendicular east window, above which - set into the wall - is a carved stone seated figure which may be Norman. Vestry projects in small wing from south side of chancel. On south side of nave is another 2-light C17 mullion window and a 3-light cinquefoil-headed restored window to the west of it. Restored C15 2-light cinquefoiled window to west of porch. Small single storey south porch has crudely chamfered round arcned doorway. Interior: walls have C20 plaster. Plain C12 south doorway with round head and aood:aouid above. C16 or C17 studded plank door with chamfered cover strips. Porch roof is plastered. Double chamfered roundheaded tower arch. Simple wagon roof whose ribs nave been renewed and a decorative wooden arch inserted over the junction between nave and chancel. The pulpit incorporates pieces of carved wood believed to come from the medieval rood screen. Simple square probably C12 tub font on central shaft set in square base. Sources: Beatrix Cresswell - Notes on Devon Churches : Deanery of Okehampton : Kelly's Directory 1906.

Lane, R. + Blaylock, S., 2017, Late Saxon and Medieval Discoveries at the Church of St James, Jacobstowe, Devon, in 2015, 155-203 (Article in Serial). SDV361896.

The name Jacobstow is interpreted as the 'holy spot of St Jacob' which has often been taken to indicate an early foundation here and it has been suggested that it was an 'embanked graveyard', the 'stow' element being the equivalent of the Celtic 'lann'. The presence of Norman fabric in the church, in particular the shape of the south doorway and the font also suggests that there was an early church here.
Excavation for floor repairs in the nave of the church in December 2014 and January 2015 revealed evidence for late Saxon foundations comprising a curved apse at the west end of the nave and a foundation wall at the east end. The curved apse runs under the standing south wall which is dated to the 12th century. Evidence of foundation trenches for later medieval rebuilding in the 12th and late 14th-15th centuries was also recorded. Finds included scattered pieces of human bone and a single fragment of a green-glazed tile. This was recovered from the brick and rubble making up the chancel step. It was probably made in Normandy and dates to circa 1480-1550.
Part of the floor of the central aisle of the nave was found to comprise North Devon relief-decorated tiles. This type of tile made in the North Devon potteries in the 17th and early 18th centuries is considered to be of national importance as the production of decorative lead-glazed floor tiles had ceased in other parts of England by this time. The tiles in Jacobstowe church are of three different sizes showing that at least three different collections of tiles had been brought together to form the pavement. Several different designs are apparent including the pelican and rose which are among the most common of the North Devon tile designs.
As part of the project a programme of sample for dendrochronology was also undertaken. A mean felling-date range of AD 1393-1425 for the construction of the roof was obtained.
A church appears to have originally been built here probably in the 10th or 11th century. This structure was demolished in the 12th century and replaced by a new stone church. In turn, this church was modified in the later medieval period including the addition of the present roof. A tower was added in the 15th or 16th century.
See article for full details including the structural history and development of the church. The chancel was lengthened and its roof replaced in 1902-3. Other substantial repairs were also made at this time. The vestry was added in the 1930s.

Bampton, J., 2020, Archaeological monitoring and recording at St James's Church, Jacobstowe (Report - Watching Brief). SDV363965.

Archaeological monitoring and recording undertaken at St James’s Church, Jacobstowe during groundworks associated with the construction of an outbuilding to the west of the church. Four archaeological features were revealed. Two stone wall foundations probably relating to the same structure and comparable to the pre-conquest apsidal wall excavated within the nave in 2015. Human bone recovered from one of the foundations gave a calibrated radiocarbon date of AD985-1160. A probable grave cut had been cut by one of the wall foundations. The fourth feature was a 19th-20th century gravel footpath which was removed between 1904 and 1946, possibly during works association with the construction of the vestry. There were very few finds and it was noted that even charnal remains were scarce.
The probable grave cut suggests that the site was in use as a burial site prior to or contemporary with the pre-conquest structures. The presence of a western apsidal, pre-conquest church at Jacobstowe is significant and demonstrates the archaeological potential for other rural churches.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 417.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 511.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 109.
SDV350785National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2013. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #81477 ]
SDV351847Report - non-specific: Jonathan Rhind Architects. St James, Jacobstowe, Devon. Jonathan Rhind Architects. Digital.
SDV356170List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Jacobstowe. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 91.
SDV360669Article in Serial: Lane, R.. 2013. Jacobstowe Church - Another Possible Excavation Opportunity. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 116. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV361896Article in Serial: Lane, R. + Blaylock, S.. 2017. Late Saxon and Medieval Discoveries at the Church of St James, Jacobstowe, Devon, in 2015. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 75. Paperback Volume + Digital. 155-203.
SDV363965Report - Watching Brief: Bampton, J.. 2020. Archaeological monitoring and recording at St James's Church, Jacobstowe. South West Archaeology. 1691217. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV106819Parent of: Jacobstowe Roll of Honour, St James Church (Monument)
MDV132980Related to: Building at St James's Church, Jacobstowe (Monument)
MDV41906Related to: Jacobstowe Churchyard (Monument)
MDV133012Related to: Late Saxon grave in St James' Churchyard, Jacobstowe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8812 - Archaeological monitoring and recording at St James's Church, Jacobstowe (Ref: 191217)

Date Last Edited:Jul 13 2022 12:16PM