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HER Number:MDV742
Name:St Mary's Parish Church, Bishops Nympton


St Mary's Parish Church in Bishops Nympton built in the 15th or early 16th century and restored in 1869 and 1877


Grid Reference:SS 757 237
Map Sheet:SS72SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBishop's Nympton
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBISHOPS NYMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 5296
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS72SE/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (XI to XXI - 1001 AD to 2009 AD (Between))
  • CROSS (Constructed, XV to Post Medieval - 1401 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Davidson, J., 1844, Notes on Devon Churches (Un-published). SDV338887.

Reichel, O. J., 1898, The Domesday Churches of Devon, 308 (Article in Serial). SDV863.

The Bishop of Exeter is thought to have had an oratory here before the time of the Domesday book.

Cresswell, B. F., 1930 - 1931, Tomb in Bishops Nympton Church, 126-30 (Article in Serial). SDV338884.

Cresswell disputes the generally-held view that the altar tomb here is a memorial to Judge Pollard. Considers it belongs to a member of the Basset family whose history is given. Late 15th - early 16th century. Other details: Plate & Fig.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 337-8 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Parish church of St Mary. Entirely 15th or early 16th century in date. Well-proportioned tower. Restored 1869 and 1877. All the roofs have good bosses, especially the south. An altar tomb on the north side of the chancel without inscription is probably that of Sir Lewis Pollard, (circa1465-1540).

Department of Environment, 1967, Bishops Nympton (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV338885.

Church of St Mary in Bishops Nympton. Parish church with a 12th century font and existing medieval fabric mostly of the C15th and 16th centuries although the south aisle is described as "completed" in 1621 (Tull). Chancel restoration of 1868 by Edward Ashworth of Exeter, (D.R.O.), cost £1,500; further restoration of 1877 (Tull), cost £1,090; tower restoration 1893, organ chamber, 1895 (Kelly's). Slatestone rubble with freestone dressings, the tower masonry brought to course; slate roofs. Plan: Chancel, nave, 6-bay south aisle (one bay to the chancel), west tower, south-west porch, north-east vestry and organ chamber. Perpendicular, although the fabric of the nave and chancel may be earlier. Exterior: A large parish church, with a dramatically tall west tower. 4-light east window, the tracery Perpendicular but the form of the embrasure possibly Decorated, similar 2-light south window. 2 3-light Perpendicular traceried windows to the nave, the tracery of different designs, the mullions and hood moulds renewed. 19th century 3-light traceried Ham Hill east window to the aisle, 3-light 19th century traceried west window. 4 windows on the south side with various tracery designs, largely 19th century; 19th century moulded 4-centred arched doorframe to the priest's door with a 19th century plank and cover strip door. Gabled porch in the first bay from the west, the late 15th/early 16th century mouldings of the outer doorframe matching those of the arcade and tower arch, pair of 19th century timber gates with iron verticals above the middle rail and timber braces. 19th century arch braced porch roof, moulded 4-centred arched inner doorframe with cushion stops and a 19th century plank and cover strip door. The west tower, "one of the stateliest !!!!!!! of north Devon" (Pevsner) is 4-stage, battlemented, with crocketted corner pinnacles (reduced in size) and very deep set-back buttresses with set-offs. The tower has moulded string courses and carved grotesques below the battlementing. The west face has a depressed 4-centred arched moulded doorframe with the remains of carving in the spandrels and a square-headed hoodmould with carved label stops; 19th century plank and cover strip door with pre 19th century door furniture. 2-light Perpendicular traceried belfry openings on all 4 faces, the south face also has a 2-light traceried window. The east face has a large clock face, dated 1897, in a diagonally-set frame and a decayed medieval cusped statue niche below, the timber statue has been moved inside the church. Interior: Unplastered walls; 19th century timber chancel arch; late 15th/16th century south arcade with moulded depressed 4-centred arches, the piers with capitals to the corner shafts only. Very tall, elegant, tower arch, the mouldings of the arch and responds matching those on the arcade. The nave roof is a ceiled wagon, the wall plate 19th century but the ribs and flat carved bosses probably early 16th century. The aisle roof, also a ceiled wagon, has a 19th century wall plate and more sculptural medieval bosses at the east end, including a shield-bearing angel. The other bosses in the aisle are late 19th century replacements. The chancel roof is an extremely rare example in a Devon church of a medieval arch braced roof, rather than the common wagon. The roof has been thoroughly restored in the 19th century, with new wall-plates, that on the south side carved on brackets above the easternmost bay of the arcade. The main trusses, probably 15th century, have moulded arch braces, threaded purlins and a diagonally-set ridge. The chancel has a chamfered 19th century Tudor arched doorframe to the vestry below a blocked round-headed arch and a moulded arch of 1895 into the organ chamber; choir stalls, probably of 1869, with poppyheads and traceried frontals. The late 19th century Gothic panelling in the sanctuary has been moved to the east end of the south aisle. A medieval timber statue, about 1.5 metres high, formerly on the east face of the tower, has been re-sited above the vestry door. The statue of St James is elongated and may be of Spanish origin (Tull). Caen stone pulpit with a memorial date of 1888 with blind traceried panels divided by buttresses and a carved cornice. The 12th century font has a square bowl decorated with round-headed arches, the bowl on a cylindrical stem; the Purbeck marble moulded base and corner shafts are 19th century. Nave benches probably late 1860s with square-headed traceried ends. 19th century commandment boards, painted slate, have been resited on the west wall of the nave. Late 18th/early 19th century timber benefaction boards fixed to the tower walls, have moulded frames and one has painted decoration. Monuments: A late Perpendicular chest and recess in the north wall of the chancel, possibly the tomb of John Basset of Whitechapel died 1485 (Cresswell) although earlier scholars have asigned it to Judge Pollard of Grilstone. The chest is decorated with 2 tiers of quatrefoils within twisted bead moulding; the recess has a crank-headed arch with twisted ribbon and foliage moulding, carved spandrels and a panelled soffit. The crowning armorial shield is flanked by unicorn supporters (Basset) but with a puzzling leopard's head crest (not Basset). Several 19th century wall monuments include a white marble Egyptian tablet in the chancel to Mary Jones, died 1838, signed Gould, Barum; a Gothic gabled monument to the Toms family (memorial dates 1800-1906) in the nave; a late 19th century Gothic monument to the Balman family (memorial dates 1818-1895), also in the nave, and a white marble Gothic wall monument to John Sanger of Whitechapel, died 1834, in the south aisle. In the tower there is a good slate wall tablet commemorating John Blackmore of Cross and recording a benefaction. The border, decorated with fruit, flowers and representations of death and time, is painted. Glass East window possibly Beer of Exeter, described as "modern" in 1844 (Davidson) south chancel window probably Alfred Beer of Exeter, memorial date of 1835 but likely to be about ten years later; east window of the South aisle with memorial date of 1888 by Clayton and Bell. A major north Devon parish church with a fine tower and a very unusual medieval chancel roof. Other details: LBS No 97573.

Tull, C. S., 1986, Untitled Source (Monograph). SDV338886.

Department of Environment, 1988, Bishops Nympton (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV61773.

Other details: Copy in Parish File.

Blaylock, S. R., 2002, Observations at St Nicholas' Church, Brushford, Somerset, 5-6 (Report - non-specific). SDV338883.

South Molton Museum holds a collection of three pegged boards from the church of St Mary the Virgin in Bishop's Nympton. The pegged boards normally supported a shingle roof but a single slate was found loose with these boards suggesting the church had a slate roof.

Watson, A., 2007-2017?, Devon Crosses, 604, (Vol 5), sketch (Un-published). SDV360833.

Bishop's Nympton Churchyard SS758238
A small cross which has been extensively repaired rests against the south wall of the church, on the east side of the south porch. A small Latin cross of rectangular section, elaborately carved with spurs, probably a gable cross from the church.
Two small Latin crosses of rectangular section once stood on the gate piers of the western entrance to the churchyard. This cross could possibly be one of these, although the crosses were small Latin, this is ornate.
Cross height 0.76 metres, span 0.55 metres. Base 0.16 by 0.15 metres.

Walls, S., 2011, Bishop's Nympton Roll of Honour (Ground Photograph). SDV356250.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 337-8.
SDV338883Report - non-specific: Blaylock, S. R.. 2002. Observations at St Nicholas' Church, Brushford, Somerset. Exeter Archaeology Report. 02.68. A4 Stapled + Digital. 5-6.
SDV338884Article in Serial: Cresswell, B. F.. 1930 - 1931. Tomb in Bishops Nympton Church. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 16. Unknown. 126-30.
SDV338885List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1967. Bishops Nympton. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV338886Monograph: Tull, C. S.. 1986. Bishop's Nympton Church and People. Unknown.
SDV338887Un-published: Davidson, J.. 1844. Notes on Devon Churches. Manuscript.
SDV356250Ground Photograph: Walls, S.. 2011. Bishop's Nympton Roll of Honour. The Materiality of Remembrance. Digital.
SDV360833Un-published: Watson, A.. 2007-2017?. Devon Crosses. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 604, (Vol 5), sketch.
SDV61773List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Bishops Nympton. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV863Article in Serial: Reichel, O. J.. 1898. The Domesday Churches of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 30. A5 Paperback. 308.

Associated Monuments

MDV95320Parent of: Western gate piers to the Church of St Mary, Bishops Nympton (Monument)
MDV73845Related to: Bishop's Nympton, Capitol Farmhouse (Building)
MDV73846Related to: Bishop's Nympton, Crosse Cottage (Building)
MDV73844Related to: Bishop's Nympton, Victoria House (Building)
MDV741Related to: St Mary's Parish Church Lychgate and Walls (Building)
MDV73843Related to: St Mary's Parish Church, Gatepiers, Gates & Railings (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Mar 22 2018 7:36PM