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HER Number:MDV15248
Name:St Michael and All Angels Parish Church, Sowton


St Michael and All Angels parish church in Sowton with an early 16th century arcade and the rest rebuilt in 1845


Grid Reference:SX 975 925
Map Sheet:SX99SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSowton
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSOWTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 4860
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX99SE/70
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I): 86189
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX99SE18

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (XVI to XIX - 1501 AD to 1845 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX99SE18 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV132990.

The design of the piers of the north arcade, the only portion retained of the old building, is influenced by Tiverton Parish Church. 17th century church plate mentioned.

Skinner, A. J. P., 1926 - 1927, Forward family, 16-7 (Article in Serial). SDV132984.

Gravestone in floor bearing names of members of the Forward family.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 479 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Sowton Parish Church, dedicated to St Michael. Completely rebuilt in 1845.

Department of Environment, 1987, Sowton, 34 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV118121.

St Michael and All Angels parish church in Sowton with an early 16th century arcade, otherwise all of 1844-5 by John Hayward. Coursed red sandstone with Beer stone dressing; fishscale slate roof, with heavy coping to gable walls, with crosses at apexes. Early Perpendicular in style. West tower, nave, south porch, north aisle, chancel, north-east vestry. Exterior: West tower of 3 stages and plinth. Battlemented with corner pinnacles (now partially dismantled), with a stringcourse with gargoyles below the parapet. Angle buttresses with set-offs; south west angle staircase with half-pyramidal roof, buttressed, and lit by small quatrefoil panels. 2-light pointed belfry openings. Trefoil headed lancets to all sides light bellringing chamber. Canopied statue in niche to south. 3-light west window. West door with plinth raised to act as hood mould. South side, 5 bays including the porch; 2-light windows divided by buttresses with set offs. Chancel, with 2 lancets divided by similar buttress; priest's door. Diagonal buttresses at east angles; 3-light east window. North-east vestry, separately roofed with prominent stack. 5 bays to north side of aisle, as south, but with no porch. Interior: early-16th century 5-bay arcade, the west bay much narrower than the others; deep moulding to piers, and capitals with roses and shield-bearing angels, some of these very primitive in execution. All the rest is Hayward's. Open wagon roofs throughout, those to the nave and aisle possibly retaining some medieval bosses, and part of a wall plate. Complete set of 1840s bench ends, traceried with a variety of motifs in cusped roundels. Stone polygonal font, quatrefoil panels with pinnacled font cover. Pulpit, stone, polygonal, the stiles with finialed pinnacles, the panel with finialed canopies containing saints, all carved by John Thomas (who also carved the figure of St Michael in the tower niche). The chancel is notable for its intactness, and the quality of its fittings. Stencilled wall decorations, painted roof members, all over floor tiles, decorative tiles also to the risers of the sanctuary steps, and to the east wall up to the level of the altar table (which is also contemporary); commandment panels (painted on porcelain) with stone surrounds, pinnacled, finialed and crocketed. Sanctuary rails. The wall spaces of the chancel are enlivened by the deeply recessed window arches, and (to the south) the sequence of south windows, priests door and the double sedilia, heavily cusped with foliated decoration to the spandrels. Historical note: John Hayward, the architect of Sowton, the rebuilding of which was financed by the High Church Garrett family of Bishop's Court (q.v.) was for a short time the leading exponent of ecclesiologically correct Gothic. His church at Gruick brought praise from the Ecclesiologist, and for a short period Hayward was their favourite son, until displaced by Butterfield. Sowton church is an early Ecclesiological church cf. Scott's early Puginian essay St Giles, Camberwell of 1842 which was also praised by the Ecclesiologist as adhering to the true principles of ecclesiology - and is remarkably intact, with a full complement of fine fittings and a well-preserved decorative scheme to the chancel. The stone sculptor at work here - John Thomas (1813 62) - so impressed the architect Sir Charles Barry that he was engaged to superintend the stone carving of the Houses of Parliament. References : Devon C19 Churches Project ; R Gunnis, Dictionary of Britis sculptors, 1660-1851 (revised ed.in.d), pp.388-9. Other details: LBS Number 86189.

Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 755 (Monograph). SDV325629.

Fisher, J., 1999, East Devon Conservation Area Appraisals: Sowton, 5-6 (Report - non-specific). SDV347074.

St Michael's Church is a rare, complete survival of an early Victorian Tractarian village church with original fittings. Of red sandstone with Bath stone dressings, it has a fine west tower, late 14th century in style with large corner pinnacles. There are wagon roofs to the nave and aisle, a complete set of 19th century stained glass, and fine carvings on the capitals. Other details: Maps, photographs.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV118121List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Sowton. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 34.
SDV132984Article in Serial: Skinner, A. J. P.. 1926 - 1927. Forward family. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 14. Unknown. 16-7.
SDV132990Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX99SE18. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 479.
SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 755.
SDV347074Report - non-specific: Fisher, J.. 1999. East Devon Conservation Area Appraisals: Sowton. East Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5-6.

Associated Monuments

MDV107082Parent of: Sowton World War I War Memorial Plaque, St Michael's Church (Monument)
MDV36373Related to: Sowton Parish Church, Hart Tomb (Building)
MDV36374Related to: Sowton Parish Church, Hole Tomb (Building)
MDV36370Related to: Sowton Parish Church, Lychgate (Building)
MDV36372Related to: Sowton Parish Church, Three Tomb Chests (Building)
MDV36371Related to: Sowton Parish Church, Tomb Chest (Building)
MDV36355Related to: Sowton, The Old Rectory (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 17 2017 2:59PM