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HER Number:MDV79699
Name:Lavington United Reform Church, Bridgeland Street, Bideford


Mid-19th century meeting house, inscribed "The Great Meeting House".


Grid Reference:SS 453 268
Map Sheet:SS42NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBideford
Ecclesiastical ParishBIDEFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 375761

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • UNITED REFORMED CHURCH (Built, XIX - 1856 AD to 1859 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

'Lavington Chapel (Congregational) (Seats for 600)' marked on the Ordnance Survey Town map of 1855--1895.

Unknown, 1861, Unknown, 4 (Article in Serial). SDV350120.

On page 4 of the Bideford Weekly Gazette for 24th December 1861 is a brief description of the interior of Lavington United Reform Church soon after it was built.

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

"Chapel (Cong.)" marked.

Stell, C., 1991, Untitled Source, 61 (Monograph). SDV346926.

Described as a principal monument and "most worthy of preservation". Monument 10.

Torridge District Council, 2009, Bideford Conservation Area Appraisal, 16 (Report - non-specific). SDV351295.

Built in 1856-9 by E M White of Bideford, and replaced the Great Meeting House of 1696.

English Heritage, 2011, Historic Houses Register (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV346128.

Lavington United Reformed Church.
Chapel. 1856-9 by E.M. White of Bideford. Coursed stone rubble with details in limestone (possibly Beer stone). Slate roof. A simple oblong plan with vestibule at south (entrance) end and small square apse (now containing the organ) on the north; main body of chapel galleried, with rostrum at north end.
Exotic design in Gothic style. Front has 3-window gabled centre with low gabled entrance-porch below the middle window. At either side a square, projecting tower with octagonal steeple, each corner of the tower carrying a tall octagonal finial.
Entrance-porch has pointed-arched doorway with multiple mouldings springing from paired shafts; double-doors with traceried panels and ornate strap-hinges. Porch buttressed at either side; gable has kneelers and carved finial, the latter surmounted by a cross. Behind it, 3 very tall windows with pointed arches, the centre window with 3 transomed lights, those at either side with 2; all have head-tracery, including the lower lights of the centre window. All 3 windows have coloured leaded glass. In the gable a small traceried light with pointed head; carved stone cross on the apex above it. Towers each have a 2-light window, a plainer version of those in the centre; above it a round stone panel enclosing a quatrefoil. On the inner face of each tower is a doorway with 4-centred arch; plank door with ornate iron strap-hinges. Towers finished with heavily-moulded cornices having at each front corner and the 2 outer rear corners (the others not visible) a large gargoyle in the form of male and female heads; above the cornices open traceried balustrades with crenellated tops. Finials are plain, consisting of a base with moulded cornice, from which rises an obelisk. Spires divided into 6 stages by moulded stringcourses, the lowest stage with 4 lucarnes; carved finials at the top, that to right carrying an elaborate iron cross. On the base of the left tower is a stone plaque inscribed THE GREAT MEETING-HOUSE WAS BUILT A.D. 1696. In a similar position on the right tower is a plaque inscribed THIS PLACE OF WORSHIP WAS ERECTED A.D. 1856. E. M. W. ARCH. Rear elevation, visible from the Ropewalk, has a large 3-light traceried window in the apse and a round traceried window at either side.
Interior: pew-ends, gallery and rostrum-fronts with wood Gothic panelling; gallery carried on triple-shafted cast-iron columns. Organ has elaborate wooden Gothic case. Roof of main body of chapel low-pitched with moulded beams; that of apse has arch-traced trusses with open Gothic tracery in the spandrels. For a brief description of the interior soon after it was built, see The Bideford Weekly Gazette, 24.12.1861, p4. The chapel is said to contain a clock which is a relic of the 'Great Meeting'.
White was both the architect and the builder. The chapel, which was originally called the Lavington Chapel (after Samuel Lavington, pastor of the Bideford 'Great Meeting', 1753-1807), replaced the Independent Chapel of 1696 on the same site; together with the adjacent schoolroom it was estimated to have cost about ¯2000. Alterations, mainly a new heating system and an enlargement of the organ gallery, were made by RT Hookway of Bideford in 1884.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Historic England, 2020, Lavington United Reformed Church, Bridgeland Street, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2PZ (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV363480.

Notification of an application to amend the entry for the church.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346128List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2011. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV346926Monograph: Stell, C.. 1991. An Inventory of Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-Houses in South-West Engl. Hardback Volume. 61.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #106503 ]
SDV350120Article in Serial: Unknown. 1861. Unknown. Bideford Weekly Gazette. Unknown. 4.
SDV351295Report - non-specific: Torridge District Council. 2009. Bideford Conservation Area Appraisal. Torridge District Council Planning Guidance. Digital. 16.
SDV363480List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Historic England. 2020. Lavington United Reformed Church, Bridgeland Street, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2PZ. Notification of Application to Amend Entry. Email.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 17 2020 3:50PM