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HER Number:MDV806
Name:St. Mary the Virgin, Pilton

Summary

Large parish church, formerly part of a Benedictine Priory. Founded 925-940 as a cell of Malmesbury, dissolved in 1533 when it was acquired by the Chichester family of Raleigh. Present church partly 13th century (dedicated 1259), partly 15th century with some conservative repair and rebuilding of the 17th century. An important church with good fittings and some fine monuments.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 556 341
Map Sheet:SS53SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBarnstaple
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishPILTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 5230
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS53SE/104
  • Old Listed Building Ref (A)
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS53SE8

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (X to XXI - 925 AD to 2012 AD (Between))

Full description

Unknown, 1853?, Unknown, 320 (Article in Serial). SDV350376.


Hall, T. M., 1867, Notes on the Priory of Saint Mary at Pilton, 96-97 (Article in Serial). SDV77512.

The church tower was partly demolished during the Civil War; it was popularly supposed that it was destroyed by Fairfax, though no large cannonballs have ever been found in the vicinity.
Stone pulpit with an iron arm attached to it for holding an hourglass .


Townsend, M. H., 1867, Notes on the Priory of St. Mary at Pilton, 93-97 (Article in Serial). SDV92456.

Stone pulpit with an iron arm attached to it for holding an hourglass.


Dymond, R., 1888, The Customs of the Manors of Braunton, 298 (Article in Serial). SDV341601.

Monumental inscription in the parish church to Robert Incledon who died in 1758, in his 68th year.


Brushfield, T. N., 1892, The Church of All Saints, East Budleigh. Part 2, 246 (Article in Serial). SDV15399.


Bligh Bond, F., 1903, Devonshire Screens and Rood Lofts. Part II, 480 (Article in Serial). SDV6113.

Fine rood screen. Spans nave and south aisle, dated 1508. A reversion to florid decorated forms, the character of the tracery to the arcades is different for each bay and is unique in devon. Much of cornice - with remains. Groining missing. Lately very dilapidated.


EDS, 1904-1905, Altar Tables at Pilton and Martinhoe (Article in Serial). SDV77514.

Photograph shown of altar table in this church.


Chanter, J. F. + Reed, H., 1907, Second Report of the Church Plate Committee (Article in Serial). SDV70301.

Church plate in the parish church of St. Mary. Chalice number one: Elizabthan with foliated band at rim; stem with knop. Conical bowl and usual Matthew ornamentation with no marks. Cover with foliated band and one mark - the ornament used by T. Matthew. Chalice number two: a large silver-gilt piece of ugly design and proportions. Stem is octagon-baluster shape with round foot. Marks: (i) maker's 'HO' in octagonal oblong (Edward Holaday, ent.1709); (ii) britannia; (iii) lion's head erased; (iv) date-letter 1713 London. Inscription: 'Ex Dono Christopheri Lethbridge de Pilton Armigeri, 1713'. Paten of silver gilt on stand. Inscription and marks as on second chalice. Flagons: number one of pewter and tankard-shaped with flat lid. Four indistinct marks on lid. Number two of pewter and also tankard-shaped. Number three similarly with four indistinct marks on lid. Alms dish of pewter with central raised piece similar to a short candlestick. Has one mark - a lion rampant in circle with dotted ornamentation.


Prideaux, E. K., 1910-1911, Examples of Renaissance Church Wood Work in Devon, 99 (Article in Serial). SDV106309.

The Chichester tomb in Pilton Church was erected not long after 1556.


Chanter, J. F., 1917, Proceedings at the 56th Annual meeting., 18 (Article in Serial). SDV77506.

Parish church of St. Mary. Originally part of Pilton Priory. Unique screen; good perpendicular parclose screen; and 16th. Century font cover.


Rogers, I., 1922 - 1923, Some Ancient Clocks in North Devon, 186,361-2 pl (Article in Serial). SDV6732.

A church was probably founded on the site in saxon times. The lower portion of the tower and some adjoining parts of the nave are the oldest. The mutilated tower was rebuilt in 1696. An 18th century 30 hour turret clock erected in 1713 is described in detail and illustrated.


F. W. C., 1922-1923, Hour-Glasses in Churches: Pilton and Tawstock, 139-140 (Article in Serial). SDV350271.

An hour-glass stands on an extended arm 0.6 metre long, painted and made of iron, and attached to the pulpit by a hinge.


Tannochy, A. B., 1926, Notes on a Carved Wooden Knife-Handle in the British Museum, 161 (Article in Serial). SDV77509.

Tonnochy remarks on early 16th century wood carving in Pilton church.


Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 135-136 (Monograph). SDV336196.

The architecture and church fittings are described at length. Church has north tower restored in 1696. Wagon-roofs in north and south aisles and nave. The monuments demonstrate presence of Chichester family in the neighbourhood. Has rood and parclose screens, Elizabethan communion rail and also a fine Elizabethan font cover.


Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 453 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Priory church until 1536. Church has remarkable woodwork and monuments including a tester or canopy of 16th century date. A 13th century building with nave and chancel reconstructed about 1320, south aisle of nave and chancel added early 16th century. Rood screen dates to 1420-50.


Crowley, J., 1957, Sundials in North Devon, 182 (Article in Serial). SDV273904.

The sundial, dated 1780, is one of the eight extant dials signed by John Berry.


Department of Environment, 1973, Barnstaple Borough, 1 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV344471.

Church of St. Mary, the Virgin, Benedictine Priory Church. Roof line of priory buildings visible on tower. Twelfth century chancel arch. South aisle 15th century. Tower (restored after Civil War) at east end of north aisle.
Interior pulpit with hour glass, 15th century screen, font cover etc. Monuments.


Rance, C., 1995, Archaeological Assessment of Land adjoining Bull Hill, Pilton, 3 (Report - Assessment). SDV340753.


Orme, N. + Webster, M., 2010, The Medieval Church in North Devon, 49-72 (Article in Serial). SDV361663.


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


English Heritage, 2012, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV348729.

Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, .
Large parish church, formerly part of a Benedictine Priory. Founded 925-940 as a cell of Malmesbury, dissolved in 1533 when it was acquired by the Chichester family of Raleigh. Present church partly 13th century (dedicated 1259), partly 15th century with some conservative repair and rebuilding of the 17th century. Local purple, grey and brown slatestone, sandstone dressings; slate roofs.
Plan: nave; chancel; 3-bay Early English north aisle arcade, aisle roof said to date from 1639; 4-bay Perpendicular 5 aisle and 2-bay south-east chapel; large Early English north-east tower; south-east porch. The tower and south aisle date from the Priory, which has buildings on the east and north sides of the tower, which is described as `rebuilt' (inscription on porch) by Robert Nutting in 1696 following Civil War damage, with later rebuilding 1845-1850. Most of the window tracery renewed.
Exterior: south-east chancel chapel extends flush with chancel, both have 4-light east windows with Y-tracery. South side has 4 grand 4-light windows with deeply-moulded architraves and Perpendicular style tracery. Small moulded doorway into south-east chapel with old dripstone and carved dripstone terminals; Berry sundial over door dated 1780. Tall castellated porch in first bay from W with moulded outer doorway with 19th century carved dripstone terminals and 2-light square-headed Perpendicular window on east return; moulded inner doorway with 16th century dripstone terminals. Stone structure on outer doorway appears to be stoup but described in church guide as a Benitier for leaving food in. Porch has 19th century timber roof and inscription over outer door recording rebuilding of the tower. West end of south aisle has 4-light window with Y-tracery. W window of nave has probably original 4-light Decorated window with reticulated tracery; similar tracery to 3-light west window of north aisle. North aisle has three 3-light high-set Perpendicular windows (above the roofline of former priory buildings) with cusped lights and square-headed embrasures. Nineteenth century northN doorway into churchyard towards west end. Massive north-east tower, 2-stage but with evidence of former octagonal stage or spire with embattled parapet, corner pinnacles and embattled 3-sided stair turret with stone belcote with crocketed spire. The tower has 3-light louvred belfry windows and evidence for former buildings attached on east and north sides. The east side has a large, blocked Early English arch; the N wall has a probably secondary doorway with a shouldered arch.
Interior: plastered walls. Boarded waggon roofs to nave, chancel chapel and aisles with moulded ribs and carved bosses at the intersections. South aisle roof augmented with later, braced crested tie beams. If the north aisle roof is 17th century it is an important late example of a roof type which dates from at least the 14th century in Devon churches. Chancel roof is an undecorated waggon, presumably intended to take plaster, but of unknown date. One stone-vaulted 13th century bay into the tower from the chancel. Plain chancel arch with 19th century or 20th century masonry. Plain, massive north arcade, the piers chamfered with some diagonal stops and carved corbels. Fifteenth century south arcade, extending to from division between chancel and south-east chancel chapel, the piers with alternating shafts and hollow chamfers, carved foliage capitals and moulded arches. Steep 13th century arch into tower from east end of north aisle, somewhat obscured by the organ. Ten-bay crested roof screen, with evidence of reconstruction of parts. Coving missing; Flamboyant tracery fixed in spandrels, some wainscot painting revealed with others likely under existing brown paint. Fine 16th century parclose into south-east chapel, inscribed with a R for Raleigh and presumably post-1533. Parclose has good carving and mixture of Gothic and Renaissance detail. Perpendicular stone pulpit on stem, the panels decorated with blind arcading - some traces of ancient colour. The pulpit has a Jacobean sounding board and, projecting from the side, an unusual iron hand for an hourglass. Font has plain octagonal Ham Hill bowl on a stem and a fine font cover (Pevsner suggests it was put together in Elizabethan times) with concave sides with crockets and a pinnacle. Font stands below canopied tester made up of fragments of Gothic and Renaissance carving including linenfold, figure panels, applied barleysugar ribs and Gothic fretwork. Late 16th century communion table (restored 1985) with pull-out leaves. Late 16th century communion rail with bookrest on top, turned balusters and long pendants in each bay supporting arches with carved leaves in the spandrels. Chancel has 14th century cinquefoil-headed piscina on south wall. 1880s crested sandstone reredos with blind Gothic arcading, designed as an ensemble with the east window and a wall plaque commemorating the Reverend William Gradoch Hall, died1889, carved by Bryant and Son of Barnstaple. Plaque sited above very narrow moulded doorway that formerly lead to an east end chapel with adjacent chamber inhabited by a recluse in 1329. 1707 Royal Arms, painted on boards, fixed to west end of north wall. Nave seating late 19th century, choir stalls late 19th century or 20th century with traceried panels.
Monuments: very fine standing sandstone wall monument to Sir John Chichester, died1569 at west end of south-east chapel with columns and strapwork cartouches. On the north wall of the chancel a fine monument with original colour to Sir Robert Chichester, died1627 with 2 rows of kneeling figures, including children facing a double prie-dieu. The south aisle has a large wall monument to Christopher Lethbridge, died1713 with elaborate achievement and putto heads. Numerous white marble wall plaques.
Stained Glass: east window of chancel and south-east chapel windows by F Drake and Sons of Exeter; 2 windows in south aisle late work by Heaton, Butler and. This is an important church with good fittings and some fine monument


Unknown, 5 March 1977, Unknown (Article in Serial). SDV77511.

A royal coat of arms dating from Queen Anne was likely in 1977 to be moved to the north wall.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SS53SE8 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV77513.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV106309Article in Serial: Prideaux, E. K.. 1910-1911. Examples of Renaissance Church Wood Work in Devon. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 6. 99.
SDV15399Article in Serial: Brushfield, T. N.. 1892. The Church of All Saints, East Budleigh. Part 2. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 24. Unknown. 246.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 453.
SDV273904Article in Serial: Crowley, J.. 1957. Sundials in North Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 89. A5 Hardback. 182.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 135-136.
SDV340753Report - Assessment: Rance, C.. 1995. Archaeological Assessment of Land adjoining Bull Hill, Pilton. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 95.10. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3.
SDV341601Article in Serial: Dymond, R.. 1888. The Customs of the Manors of Braunton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 20. Unknown. 298.
SDV344471List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1973. Barnstaple Borough. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 1.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #107393 ]
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV350271Article in Serial: F. W. C.. 1922-1923. Hour-Glasses in Churches: Pilton and Tawstock. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 12. Unknown. 139-140.
SDV350376Article in Serial: Unknown. 1853?. Unknown. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London. 3. Unknown. 320.
SDV361663Article in Serial: Orme, N. + Webster, M.. 2010. The Medieval Church in North Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 142. Paperback Volume. 49-72.
SDV6113Article in Serial: Bligh Bond, F.. 1903. Devonshire Screens and Rood Lofts. Part II. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 35. Digital. 480.
SDV6732Article in Serial: Rogers, I.. 1922 - 1923. Some Ancient Clocks in North Devon. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 12. Unknown. 186,361-2 pl.
SDV70301Article in Serial: Chanter, J. F. + Reed, H.. 1907. Second Report of the Church Plate Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 39. A5 Hardback.
SDV77506Article in Serial: Chanter, J. F.. 1917. Proceedings at the 56th Annual meeting.. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 49. A5 Hardback. 18.
SDV77509Article in Serial: Tannochy, A. B.. 1926. Notes on a Carved Wooden Knife-Handle in the British Museum. Antiquaries Journal. 6. Unknown. 161.
SDV77511Article in Serial: Unknown. 5 March 1977. Unknown. Exeter Express and Echo. Unknown.
SDV77512Article in Serial: Hall, T. M.. 1867. Notes on the Priory of Saint Mary at Pilton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 2. Unknown. 96-97.
SDV77513Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SS53SE8. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV77514Article in Serial: EDS. 1904-1905. Altar Tables at Pilton and Martinhoe. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 3. Unknown.
SDV92456Article in Serial: Townsend, M. H.. 1867. Notes on the Priory of St. Mary at Pilton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 94. Unknown. 93-97.

Associated Monuments

MDV104745Parent of: War Memorial in St. Mary's Church, Pilton (Monument)
MDV126156Related to: Cobbled pathway at St Mary's Church, Pilton (Monument)
MDV800Related to: Pilton Priory, Barnstaple (Monument)
MDV14664Related to: St. Agnes Chapel, Pilton, Barnstaple (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Jul 26 2019 12:00PM