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HER Number:MDV9881
Name:St John's Chapel at Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton


The upstanding remains of the chapel comprise the east gable end and the south wall. There is a stoup on the inner side of the south wall which led to the interpretation of the building as a chapel.


Grid Reference:SX 915 743
Map Sheet:SX97SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBishopsteignton
Ecclesiastical ParishBISHOPSTEIGNTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 447780
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX97SW/33/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*): 85677
  • Old SAM County Ref: 200
  • Old SAM Ref: 24837
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX97SW1.1
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX97SW46

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHAPEL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Swete, R. J. (Revd), 1792-1801, 564M 'Picturesque Sketches of Devon' by Reverend John Swete, Vol. 10, 139, 141, 143 (Record Office Collection). SDV337942.

Oliver, G., 1840, Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon, 116 (Monograph). SDV35446.

St John's chapel. The remains of the chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist, measures 17.68 metres by 5.49 metres. There are three lancet windows in the east end, and a further eight and two doorways in the south wall.

Hawker, T., 1874, A sketch of Bishopsteignton, 414-5 (Article in Serial). SDV339298.

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

'St John's Chapel (Remains of)' shown on 19th century map.

Anon, 1933, Proceedings at the Seventy-Second Annual Meeting, 31 (Article in Serial). SDV340264.

Ministry of Works, 1950, Remains of the Bishop's Palace: Bishopsteignton (Schedule Document). SDV346831.

The principle ruin is the remains of the chapel, consisting of the south wall, of red sandstone. At the west end of this wall is a ruined buttress, and next to it is a two centred doorway with red sandstone voussoirs. East of this is a row of six small single-light windows with white sandstone dressings, all complete, with monolithic cusped heads. All were barred. The eastern three are now blocked. Between the second and the third is a ruined buttress, and there is another east of the sixth. They are set high in the wall as if for a pent-roof below; there are some irregular beam holes in the wall below them. East of the third buttress is a larger window, with no dressing left and east of this one more light (single) like the others, but without its head. In the east wall are remains of a large window flanked by two single lights like those in the south wall. The north and west walls have gone. A lean-to courtshed occupies the interior. Other details: Monument 200.

Department of Environment, 1952, Newton Abbot RD, 15 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV304573.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: South Devon, 53 (Monograph). SDV336217.

One wall survives of the red sandstone chapel of Bishop Grandison's summer palace. It has small ogee headed windows as befits its date of 1332.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1960, SX97SW1.1 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV346842.

The early walling extends westwards for approximately 18.29 metres, beyond the extent of the chapel to which the windows and doorways are confined. The wall is 4.0 metres high and of the windows three are blocked with modern brick. There is a stoup in position in its north face. The whole is in a poor state of preservation. Other details: Photograph.

Dudley, E. R., 1981, Untitled Source (Worksheet). SDV293585.

Also called Radway Chapel. Three doors, 19 windows of red sandstone and flint.17.7 metres by 5.5 metres. In 1987 ivy was stripped from the chapel walls. Photographs taken and sketch drawings made. Exterior partially covered by ivy. Other details: Sketch.

Dudley, E. R., 1987, Bishop's Palace (Worksheet). SDV346832.

Other details: Photographs and Drawings.

Laithwaite, J. M., 1987, Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton (Report - Survey). SDV346835.

The remains of the chapel comprise the long south wall and the east gable wall built of red sandstone rubble and a shaped and coursed pebbly red sandstone. Within the south wall are a row of six lancet windows, a doorway, a pair of openings one of which was probably also a doorway and the remains of four buttresses. The east wall has three lancet windows. A stone cross, now in the parish church, is reputed to have come from the apex of the gable. It is thought that the small recess on the inside of the south wall just east of the two openings which has a trefoiled head and a hollowed base was a holy water stoup which led to the interpretation of this building as a chapel. A plan of circa 1845 shows that the western gable wall lay between the two openings and the scars where it bonded to the south wall are still visible. It is noticeable that the ground level is higher on the inside than the outside which must have been how it was as the stoup and eastern doorway seem to be at about the right level. The doorway would have originally needed, therefore, a flight of steps outside to reach it.
The chapel now forms the southern edge of a rectangular courtyard surrounded by farm buildings.

Department of Environment, 1987, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV346843.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for consolidation of chapel walls.

Blaylock, S. R. + Westcott, K. A., 1988, The Bishop's Palace at Bishopsteignton: A Survey of the South Range (Report - Survey). SDV336518.

South and east walls of chapel stand to near full height. Return of west wall survives as a stump at south-west corner of building. Removal of topsoil in small area revealed footings of north-west corner of building. Building measures 17.8 metres east to west +and 5.5 - 5.6 metres north to south. Walls 0.9 - 0.95 metres thick. South wall supported by four buttresses on the south face, one at south end of east wall. Form of buttresses may be reconstructed from fragments of footings and caps which survive. South wall contains seven narrow lancet windows, with ogee trefoil heads, rebated (for glazing?), two doorways, neither approachable from exterior ground level without steps, possibly timber as no fixed structures against wall. East doorway set higher than west, where stoup provides fairly reliable guide to internal floor level at west end of chapel. East wall, gable end, contains three lancet windows, central one taller than those either side. North side of gable suffered considerable loss, exposing upper surface of head of northernmost window. No buttress at north-east corner, footings of wall running north detected abutting it.

Gibbons, P., 1993, Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton (Un-published). SDV346836.

Survey of upstanding remains of chapel drawn in 1932. East gable end and south wall survive, the former to 8.1 metres high. Chapel is 20 metres by 7 metres overall, with buttressed walls pierced at a high level by lancet windows, Three in gable end, seven in south wall. South wall has a stoup in its inner face, and two doors opening into outer court which is 2 metres lower.

Department of Environment, 1994, Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton (Schedule Document). SDV346840.

The principal standing remains at the Bishop's Palace are those of St John's chapel, forming the south-east corner of the court, of which the east gable-end and the south wall survive, the former to a height of 8.1 metres. The chapel is 20 metres by 7 metres overall, with buttressed walls pierced at a high level by lancet windows in carved Beer stone. There are three windows in the gable-end and seven in the south wall. The south wall has a stoup, a recess for holding holy water, made from Beer stone set into its inner face, and two doors, devoid of decorative stonework, that open into the outer court which is up to 2 metres lower. The manor of Bishopsteignton belonged to the bishops of Exeter before the Norman Conquest. There is no evidence of a dwelling until the episcopal registers commence in the second half of the 13th century which record that Bishop Bronescombe (1257-80) was present in the manor for several days in each of nine different years. The principal reference to structural work occurs in the will of Bishop Grandisson (1327-69) which states that he obtained the appropriation of the chapel from Rome in 1331/2 and, `...erected convenient and sumptuous buildings there..'. The institution of priests in the chapel in 1373/4 is the first entry in the registers referring directly to the site, but it is not until Bishop Lacy (1420-55) that it is regularly mentioned as a place where official acts were undertaken. The registers of subsequent bishops have not been published, but a survey undertaken after the bishopric of Redman (1495-1501) states that the buildings had become ruinous. In 1550 Edward VI compelled Bishop Vesey to dispose of the manor which was conveyed to Richard Duke through Sir Andrew Dudley. Subsequent changes in ownership have been traced down to the present. In the mid 18th century Dean Milles recorded that the site was badly ruined. In 1795 the site was being used as a farmyard with the inner court containing barns and linhays. It was at this time that the ruins were first described as a palace rather than a manor. The chapel and the south wall of the inner court were consolidated in 1987 following a structural survey which included a plan and partial description of most of the recognisable Medieval features on the site. Some reconstruction was undertaken on the buttresses and tops of the walls of the chapel. Other limited excavations and clearance work have been undertaken in recent years. The following are excluded from the scheduling: all modern farm buildings, structures, permanent farm fixtures, concrete hard-standings, gate and fence posts, although the ground beneath all these features is included. Other details: Monument 24837.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 447780 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346845.

Ruins of a Medieval chapel at Bishop Grandison's summer palace.

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

Ruins of Bishop's Palace at Ash Hill Farm in Bishopsteignton were Listed on 23rd August 1955. Parts of curtain walls and remains of chapel. Probably early 14th century. Red sandstone and brecchia rubble, chapel dressings a yellowish stone, possibly Salcombe Regis.The chapel remains consist of a tall south wall and east wall with cusped lancet windows.The south wall retains five trefoil headed lancet windows to the nave, deeply-splayed to the interior, and the remains of buttressing, two adjacent openings on the south side to the west, one probably an original doorway. The south side of the chancel has an opening, set surprisingly high in the wall for a doorway, and the remains of a lancet window, only the jambs and sill surviving. The east wall has a trefoil-headed lancet to the south, similar window to the north largely obscured by ivy and a ruinous window in the centre. A cusped holy water stoup survives on the south wall inside the former chapel. Other details: LBS Number 85677.

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

'St John's Chapel' shown on modern mapping.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV293585Worksheet: Dudley, E. R.. 1981. Worksheet.
SDV304573List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1952. Newton Abbot RD. Historic Houses Register. A4 Single Sheet. 15.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336217Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: South Devon. The Buildings of England: South Devon. Paperback Volume. 53.
SDV336518Report - Survey: Blaylock, S. R. + Westcott, K. A.. 1988. The Bishop's Palace at Bishopsteignton: A Survey of the South Range. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 88.02. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV337942Record Office Collection: Swete, R. J. (Revd). 1792-1801. 564M 'Picturesque Sketches of Devon' by Reverend John Swete. Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown + Digital. Vol. 10, 139, 141, 143.
SDV339298Article in Serial: Hawker, T.. 1874. A sketch of Bishopsteignton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 6 Part 2. A5 Hardback. 414-5.
SDV340264Article in Serial: Anon. 1933. Proceedings at the Seventy-Second Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 65. A5 Hardback. 31.
SDV346128List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2011. Historic Houses Register. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #110284 ]
SDV346831Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1950. Remains of the Bishop's Palace: Bishopsteignton. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV346832Worksheet: Dudley, E. R.. 1987. Bishop's Palace. Worksheet.
SDV346835Report - Survey: Laithwaite, J. M.. 1987. Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton. Devon Religious Houses Survey. 17. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346836Un-published: Gibbons, P.. 1993. Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. A4 Stapled.
SDV346840Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1994. Bishop's Palace, Bishopsteignton. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV346842Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1960. SX97SW1.1. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV346843Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1987. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV346845National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 447780. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV35446Monograph: Oliver, G.. 1840. Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon. Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon. Vol 2. Unknown. 116.

Associated Monuments

MDV9880Part of: Bishop's Palace, Bishopteignton (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Mar 16 2015 3:13PM