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HER Number:MDV20064
Name:St Mary's Abbey Church at Buckfast Abbey

Summary

St Mary's Abbey Church at Buckfast Abbey is a 20th century building on 12th century foundations

Location

Grid Reference:SX 741 674
Map Sheet:SX76NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishBuckfastleigh
DistrictTeignbridge
Ecclesiastical ParishBUCKFASTLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76NW/24/10
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 392224

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHURCH (XI to XX - 1100 AD to 1950 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'St Mary's Church (Site of)' shown on 19th century map.


Rowe, J. B., 1884, Recent Excavations at Buckfast Abbey, 590-4 (Article in Serial). SDV348426.

Abbey church. Modern church on site of Medieval one. The Medieval church was the usual chancel, transepts and long nave. The footings of the old church were excavated by the monks in 1882.


Rowe, J. B., 1886, Report of the Committee on Scientific Memoranda, 809-886 (Article in Serial). SDV348447.

Rowe suggests that the excavations of 1883 at the east end of the choir revealed foundations which may have been in addition to the original church, and may have been 14th/15th century in date.


Aerofilms, 1930, Aerofilms LTD Oblique Aerial Photography 60713, AFL 60713/EPW033240 01-JUL-1930 (Aerial Photograph). SDV354848.

A works compound is visible, and the church has a partial roof structure.


Department of Environment, 1983, Buckfastleigh, 1 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337043.

Modern church of St Mary began in 1907 and consecrated in 1932, and the tower completed in 1938. Large stone built abbey church in Norman and Early English style.


Department of Environment, 1985, Images of listed buildings in Buckfastleigh (Photograph). SDV359974.

Images taken 15/07/1985.


Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1989, The Buildings of England: Devon, 223-5 (Monograph). SDV325629.

The church at Buckfast Abbey follows the excavated 12th century building with aisles, a chapel to each transept and originally a square end. The general character is a mixture of English Cistercian and French early Gothic with the exception of the Benedictine tower. Other details: Plan.


Salvatore, J. P., 2001, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV348590.

Abbey church re-erected on exposed 12th century foundations.


Brown, S., 2008, Buckfast Abbey: Archaeological Evaluation (Blessed Sacrament Chapel) (Report - Evaluation). SDV348631.

An evaluation trench between the present Buckfast Abbey church and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to the east located the remains of a Medieval wall which once formed part of a chapel projecting from the east end of the Medieval abbey church. The chapel probably dates from the late 13th or early 14th century. A series of Medieval deposits associated with the wall date from the 12th century and later.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Building shown on modern mapping.


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

St Mary's Abbey Church at Buckfast Abbey was Listed on 10th January 1951. It was built in 1907-1932, on the foundations of the Medieval Cistercian abbey church (except the east end) for the Benedictine monks who established a house here in 1882. Most of the building work was carried out by a small group of monks working under a master mason. Snecked local grey limestone with Ham Hill dressings; copper roof. Style "mixture of English Cistercian and French early Gothic" (Pevsner). 1965 east end Blessed Sacrament chapel to the designs of Paul Pearn.
Plan: church with 8-bay lean-to aisles plus galleried western bay; central crossing tower; transepts with chapels; 3-bay choir with choir aisles; east end Blessed Sacrament chapel with undercroft.
Exterior: west end of nave with flanking projecting buttresses containing stairs to gallery, rising as pinnacles with broach spire roofs, bases and pinnacles decorated with blind arcading. Round-headed west doorway with shafts, left and right shafts with cushion capitals and carved gable. Doorway has three orders of zigzag, billet and chevron moulding on engaged shafts; 2-leaf door with elaborate ironwork. Above the doorway a recessed 3-centred blind moulded arch containing two round-headed windows with shafts and a roundel window above. Above the archway blind arcading decorates the gable. West ends of lean-to aisles have smaller versions of the buttresses flanking the nave and paired round-headed openings (one blind) with roundels above. North side of 9-bay nave has pilasters and a corbelled parapet. Round-headed triforium windows linked by string rising as continuous hoodmould. Nave with parapet and round-headed windows, the hoodmould string interrupted by the pilasters. Small gabled porch in second bay from the west with set-back buttresses, parapet and round-headed outer doorway with shafts and chevron-carved arch. Easternmost two bays of aisle with taller roof and blind arcading above the windows. North end of north transept with tall paired arches containing four tiers of glazed blind and glazed windows, either round-headed or roundels. East side of transept has one-bay chapel. The choir continues in the same style with lean-to choir aisle roofs. 1965 concrete east end chapel on four columns with shallow gabled roof. Tower with three stages above nave roof. Clasping pilasters; corner pinnacles with two tiers of blind arcading and broach spires, crow-stepped parapet. Lower stage has lancet windows in round-headed recesses, middle stage has small lancet windows in moulded arched recesses; 2-light plate-traceried louvred belfry windows.
Interior: Stone-vaulted, the aisles with transverse vaults. Arcades with piers with engaged shafts and chamfred and moulded arches. Nave rib vault with red sandstone infill. Triforium has a pair of 2-light pointed arches to each bay with super-ordinate round-headed blind arch. Aisle walls decorated with blind round-headed recesses containing triple round-headed arches on shafts with moulded bases and carved capitals. Stone-vaulted west end gallery on piers with canted bays to parapet. Tower arches on short paired shafts with moulded bases and carved capitals. Crossing has corbelled stone gallery; transepts have simple galleries on moulded corbels with cast-iron railings. Choir has similar detail to nave but carved, not moulded capitals and stone infill to the vaulting of choir and choir aisles. East end of sanctuary has two round-headed arches and two round-headed windows above the triforium with a central shaft rising to a carving of the Coronation of the Virgin. The furnishings, floors, painted decoration and stained glass are unexpectedly lavish, particularly the outstanding metalwork, which is mostly 1928-1932 by Bernhard Witte of Aachen, inspired by German Romanesque metalwork and described in some detail in Pevsner. The stained glass is a remarkable collection, mostly still in the medievalising Victorian tradition and of the highest quality. In addition the church contains a 16th century ivory crucifix donated by the Clifford family of Ugbrooke, the leading Roman Catholic family in Devon. 1965 Blessed Sacrament chapel by Paul Pearn conceived as a setting for ambitious mosaic stained glass designed by Father Charles Norris, one of the Buckfast Abbey monks.
Historical note: the rebuilding of the abbey church by the Buckfast monks was well-publicised in the national and local press and one of the monks with an interest in photography recorded much of the work: the archive is held by the abbey. Buckfast Abbey became an important focus for Roman Catholicism in Devon in the late 19th and 20th century with the monks serving private chapels in the area, including Ugbrooke in Chudleigh for the Clifford family and Dundridge in Harberton for the wife of Sir John Harvey. Other details: LBS Number 392224.


Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2018-2019, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 1, Haldon Ridge to Dart Valley (Interpretation). SDV361305.

Aerial photographs taken in 1930 show a works compound in the grounds immediately to the north of the church, and the roof is under construction.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV325629Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1989. The Buildings of England: Devon. The Buildings of England: Devon. Hardback Volume. 223-5.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337043List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1983. Buckfastleigh. Historic Houses Register. A4 Spiral Bound. 1.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82658 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV348426Article in Serial: Rowe, J. B.. 1884. Recent Excavations at Buckfast Abbey. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 16. A5 Hardback. 590-4.
SDV348447Article in Serial: Rowe, J. B.. 1886. Report of the Committee on Scientific Memoranda. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 18. A5 Hardback. 809-886.
SDV348590Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 2001. Monuments Protection Programme. Report on Site for which Scheduling is Not . Unknown.
SDV348631Report - Evaluation: Brown, S.. 2008. Buckfast Abbey: Archaeological Evaluation (Blessed Sacrament Chapel). Stewart Brown Associates Report. A4 Grip Bound.
SDV354848Aerial Photograph: Aerofilms. 1930. Aerofilms LTD Oblique Aerial Photography 60713. NMR Aerial Photograph. Digital. AFL 60713/EPW033240 01-JUL-1930.
SDV359974Photograph: Department of Environment. 1985. Images of listed buildings in Buckfastleigh. Photograph (Paper).
SDV361305Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2018-2019. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 1, Haldon Ridge to Dart Valley. Historic England Research Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1

Associated Monuments

MDV7813Parent of: Well in Crypt of Buckfast Abbey (Monument)
MDV7813Related to: Well in Crypt of Buckfast Abbey (Monument)
MDV7808Part of: Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7808Related to: Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7814Related to: Abbey Farmhouse , Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7809Related to: Abbots Tower at Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7808Part of: Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7808Related to: Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7810Related to: Cemetery at Buckfast Abbey (Monument)
MDV20065Related to: Mansion at Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV47943Related to: Methodist Chapel, Buckfast Abbey (Building)
MDV7813Parent of: Well in Crypt of Buckfast Abbey (Monument)
MDV7813Related to: Well in Crypt of Buckfast Abbey (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5699 - Evaluation at Buckfast Abbey Church
  • EDV7515 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey (Ref: ACD1748)

Date Last Edited:Mar 29 2019 3:07PM