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HER Number:MDV993
Name:St. Hieritha's Church


Parish church possibly dating to the 8th century commemorating a 6th Century saint. Church mentioned in Domesday. Chruch largly represents the 15/16 century rebuild. Chancel and north aisle rebuilt in the 19 century.


Grid Reference:SS 635 255
Map Sheet:SS62NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishChittlehampton
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHITTLEHAMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 5300
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS62NW/12
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PARISH CHURCH (Roman to Late Medieval - 43 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Were, F., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV38008.

Were says the arms are those of fortesque (were).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV412.

Author suggests that urith was a 6th century martyr (chanter).

RUSHFORTH, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV44526.

A representation of st. Sidwell in the church is noted (rushforth).

KERSLAKE, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV54833.

The survival of the early dedication of chittlehampton church to st. Herygh of erghe noted (kerslake).

Price, D. G., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV84573.

Note on st. Urith and the associated well (crf) are in parish file (price).

ANDREWS, 1962, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85711.

Parish church with imposing external aspect. No clerestory. Fine range of good perpendicular windows; walls embattled and ornamented with a cornice of quatrefoils relieved by crocketed pinnacles; line broken by a s porch in centre of nave aisle; a small turret to give access to rood loft and roof. Fine tower at w end of four stages divided by bands of quatrefoils and supported by buttresses of four stages. Summit has rich cornice of open battlements and quatrefoils finished by eight crocketed pinnacles, supported by flying buttresses and smaller pinnacles, some springing from corbels on the string course below belfry. Belfry windows are rudely carved in open quatrefoils, of three lights divided by a transom and subarcuated with cinquefoil heads. W doorway formed by a four-centred arch with numerous mouldings and foliage in the spandrels. W window of four lights with cinquefoil heads and open tracery. Drastic restoration. Screen, old carved benchends, roof bosses all demolished. Unusual plan of church: baptistry at base of tower; nave; n and s aisles opening into nave by five arches of late decorated period, resting on slender columns formed by the intervening hollow mouldings. Chancel divided from nave by wide arch and modern stone screen. Niche which originally contained image of st. Urith has rich canopy of tabernacle work terminating in crocketed pinnacles and finials. Roofs modern cradle except in transepts which are ancient and much ornamented with bold ribs and bosses. S porch roof is a cradle roof with bosses and shields. Ancient stone pulpit, octagonal and carved. Five of its panels house figures. Rood loft door and staircase show former position of screen. Transformed by r. E. Trefusis in 19th. Century. Externally slated roof to the nave with serrated ridge tiles in place of lead; n wall and all pillars taken down and rebuilt on proper foundations. Inside ceiling with modillion cornice stripped away; walls stripped to the rubble, destroying some wall paintings; windows and glass all removed and renewed. Rolle family hatchments removed; grace giffard's monument disman- tled - only the effigy being retained; john giffard's monument was concealed behind an organ which blocked the n transept. Chancel floor raised, as was the sanctuary floor. A low stone screen with incongruous polished marble top separated chancel and nave. Font banished to the tower. Original pulpit removed. Excavations of a furnace chamber under the n transept disturbed the giffard vault, the lead coffins being bricked-up to one side. A flue was driven through st. Urith's burial place. The remarkable 18th. Century pews were thrown out. Trefusis later regretted the transformation! (andrews, 1962).

ANDREWS, 1945-1955, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85718.

A stone slab noted above by cresswell is said to mark the site of the shrine of st. Urith (andrews, 1945-1955).

ANDREWS, 1956-1958, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85719.

There is a detailed description of the 17th century giffard monument and its associated heraldry and genealogy (andrews, 1956-1958).

ANDREWS, 1956-1958,P.171, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85720.

There is thought to have been a church here at an early date, possibly in the 8th century, because of its association with st. Urith who is said to have been martyred here. The earliest reference known to the author is not until 1106. However, a list of incumbents is given (andrews, 1956-1958,p.171).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85725.

Chanter, j. F. /tda/46(1914)303-6/st. Urith of chittlehampton: a study in an obscure devon saint.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85726.

Andrews, j. H. B. /tda/94(1962)302-3 pl.27/chittlehampton.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85727.

Kerslake, t. /jbaa/33(1887)426/traces of the ancient kingdom of damnonia outside cornwall.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85728.

Pevsner, n. /the buildings of england: north devon/(1952)69-70.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85729.

Hoskins, w. G. /devon/(1954)364-365.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85730.

Corbould, p. /tda/100(1968)35 pl.4/the monumental brasses of devon.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85731.

Thompson, a. H. /arch. J. /70(1913)485-6/church architecture in devon.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85732.

Chanter, j. F. /tda/42(1910)479,491/christianity in devon before ad 909.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85733.

Reichel, o. J. /tda/29(1897)248/the domesday hundreds of devon: part iii. The hundred of north tawton.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85734.

Cresswell, b. F. /dcnq/10 part1(1918-1919)5/sepulchral slabs with crosses in devon churches.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85735.

Were, f. /dcnq/10 part1(1918-1919)59/heraldry in the chittlehampton church.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85736.

Pearse chope, r. /dcnq/10 part1(1918-1919)123/sepulchral slabs with crosses in devon churches.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85737.

Rushforth, g. Mc. N. /dcnq/17(1932-1933)250-251/the icongraphy of st sidwell.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85738.

Andrews, j. H. B. /dcnq/26(1954-1955)146/coblegh memorials at chittlehampton.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85739.

Andrews, j. H. B. /dcnq/27(1956-1958)38-41/giffard monument at chittlehampton.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85740.

Andrews, j. H. B. /dcnq/27(1956-1938)171-186/the incumbents of chittlehampton.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85741.

Reichel, o. J. /hundreds of devon/(1928-1938)80-81/the hundred of south molton in early times.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85742.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85743.

Pearce, s. M. /archaeol. J. /142(1985)263.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV85744.

Des=price, j. /(1997)/historical note in pf.

REICHEL, 1928-1938, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV171.

The patronage of the church from the 11th century is discussed (reichel, 1928-1938).

CRESSWELL, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV25789.

In front of the vestry door is a stone slab with an incised cross. It bears the coat of arms of doble (cresswell).

REICHEL, 1897, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV2587.

At domesday, the church was held by galfrid and roger, clerks, at a rent of half a mark per annum (reichel, 1897).

Department of Environment, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV325822.

Church of st. Hieritha. Entire fabric appears to be a rebuilding of late c15/early c16 date, chancel rebuilt and extended in 1840s, north aisle rebuilt, reroofing and refenestration and 'general repair and reseating entrusted to mr hayward' 1872. Unrendered stone rubble, tower coursed, with ashlar dressings. Slate roofs with crested ridge tiles, coped parapets with apex crosses. See doe list for full details (doe).

Chope, R. P., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV33437.

The heraldic change is that of the cobleigh family (chope).

Exeter Archaeology, 2008, Archaeological Recording in the Lady Chapel, the Church of St. Hieritha, Chittlehampton, Devon (Report - Watching Brief). SDV347844.

Part of a previously-unidentified east-west tomb was recorded under the north pew platform. The tomb is coffin shaped and its interior is whitewashed. The sides incorporate small metal fittings that might represent brackets for supporting a coffin, possibly indicating multi-occupancy. The tomb had been historically broken into and is partially infilled with rubble. The identify of the owner is unknown.
Removal of the southern pew platform exposed the 18th-century tomb of the Rolle family, which is aligned north-south parallel to its associated monument. The top of the tomb rises above the present floor level, and is arched and covered externally with hard white lime mortar.
The base of the Rolle monument is constructed of coursed local slate bonded in hard white gravelly lime mortar, and would have originally been almost entirely below ground. Above this footing are five courses of tapering (possibly Portland) stone masonry. The monument is carved from marble and comprises an inscription, above which is a relief of a reclining cherub flanked by torches, the former surmounted by a tapering obelisk to whi h is attached the family coat of arms.
Thee is clear evidence, in the form of the raised Rolle tomb and scars on the Rolle morument and arcade piers, that in the mid 18th century the floor level was higher than the present surface, contemporary with the floor level in the chancel. A drawing published by William Spreat in 1842 depicts a box pew within the Lady Chapel sited forward of the more recent pews. The position of the box pew corresponds with the sleeper walls uncovered during the excavation.
This box pew was removed and replaced with the two groups of (recently-removed) pews on separate wooden platforms. At the same time the floor was lowered to its current level, which reflects the height of an earlier step from the south aisle into Lady Chapel. The date of this reordering has not been established. A major episode of reordering took place in 1871-4, and an earlier phase of alterations may have taken place in 1843. The removed pews from the Lady Chapel are plainer than those in the nave and aisles, and may have been replaced at a later date than the installation of the pews elsewhere.

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

Historic England, 2017, National Heritage List for England, 1273408 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359963.

Parish church. Entire fabric appears to be a rebuilding of late C15/early C16 date, chancel rebuilt and extended in 1840s, north aisle rebuilt, reroofing and refenestration and "general repair and reseating entrusted to Mr Hayward" 1872. Unrendered stone rubble, tower coursed, with ashlar dressings. Slate roofs with crested ridge tiles, coped parapets with apex crosses. The C15/early C16 church consists of nave, north and south aisles and transepts, chancel, south porch and west tower. North aisle, arcade piers, chancel and fenestration renewed 1872. Exceptionally fine tall west tower of Somerser type, of 4 stages with set-back buttresses with crocketted pinnacles to each offset. Embattled parapet pierced with quatrefoils, and similar friezes at the base and at each stage. 8 open-work 2- stage pinnacles. Gargoyles at the angles. Large transomed 2-light bell-openings to each face with heavily ornamented pierced tracery. Clockface above 2-light pointed arched window on south side over cusped and pinnacled niche. Tall 4-light Perpendicular pointed arched west window, the mullions replacedin C19, above 4- -centred arched doorway with foliated spandrels and richly moulded surround. Hoodmould with leaf labels. South aisle, and south and north transets have embattled paraets with quatrefoil friezes. South aisle has buttresses at intervals with crocketted pinnacles to the offsets. Perpendicular style fenestration, 4 lights at west end, 3 lights to each side of, and straight headed 3-light window over south porch, which has embattled parapet, diagonal buttresses and niche above pointed arched doorway with demi-angel corbels to the hoodmould. Ogee-flanking hollow mould surround with fleuron decoration. Fine trabarted ceiling with blind quatrefoil tracery to each panel, richly carved bosses at the intersections and deep moulded timber cornice. Inner doorway with similar moulding on smaller scale, human head corbels to the hoodmould, and carved base for statue above. Original door with heavily moulded cover strips forming 5 panels with blind traceried heads. North transept has angle buttresses with 2 seated mythical beastes to each offset. Rood stair turret in left-hand (west) angle. 4-light window with narrow priest's doorway to right. Stone oval tablet set in right-hand buttress with inscrition to James Spurnay, a Giffard family servant, d. 1715. C19 4-light Perpendicular style windows to east side of each transept and chancels east end. 2-light ponited arched window to chancel south side. Polygonal ashlar chimney pot to north-east corner of chancel. Perpendicular style 4=light window to north transept, infilled below the transom. Blocked 4-centred arched doorway below. All C19 3-light windows to north aisle, with 4-light window at the west end. Interior. Nave and aisle walls unrendered plastered walls to chancel and transepts. Arcade of 5 bays between nave and aisles with 2 more between chancel and transepts. Piers of 'Pevsner' B type, on north side with concave octagonal capitals only to the main shafts, standard leaf capitals on south side. Tall pointed tower arch with hollow and ogee marbled surround and large leaf capitals. Wide-span moulded pointed chancel arch. Nave, chancel and aisles have concealed waggon roofs, those to nave and chancel apparently C19, those to aisles late C15 with moulded ribs and carved bosses at the intersections. Crenellated wall plates to south aisle. Chancel roof has carved angel figures to the base of each rib. Early C16 transetal roofs are trebeated with heavily moulded intersecting beams and large carved bosses at the intersections. Chancel: Late C19 stone reredos with statues in niches flanking mosaic of Last Supper. Double C19 sedilia and patterned floor tiles. Nave: Slender stone pulpit (circa 1500) with figures of saints, under ogee canoies in narrow panels with leaf frames. C19 nave seating throughout with blind traceried bench ends. Nave floor has many exposed slab memorials. C19 font with lead lined bowl on C15 base. Glass: full complement of C19 glass survive to aisles and south transept with trailing texts. Stained glass to east end window to William Barry d.1871. Chancel south window to Rolle Family by Hardman. Monuments: Chancel north side. Arched entrance to narrow chamber floored with stone inscribed "Orate pro anima Joan Cobley", possibly placed over relics of St Urith. Elaborate niche in pier with painted inscription 'In memory of St Hieritha, Foundress of this Church' with verses. 2 wall monuments above to Rev. Thomas Colley d.1762, with broken pediments and central achievement and John Bear d.1656, nowy arched with achievement and 3 roundels with inscriptions to his children. Chancel south side C17 tablet Rev. Hugh Harris. North transet. Giffard Chapel with semi-reclining figure of Grace Giffard d. 1667 a fragment of larger monument and large standing wall monument to Joh Giffard of Brightley; recumbent figure with 2 kneeling figures against the tomb-chest. On back wall 2 bearded heads in profile in medallions, broken pediment on which cherubs recline and central achievement. West wall: 2 C19 marble wall monuments to Collingwood and Giffard family. South transept: (Rolle Chapel) Large C18 standing marble wall monuments with taering obelisk above reclining cherub in high relief with achuevement above and torches to each side. Inscription to members of Rolle family 'Whose lives have left to posterity a more expressive Menorial than can be perpetuated on the most Durable Marble' East wall: Tablet to Edward Yeo of North Petherwin d. 1636. North aisle, north side to Joachim Rolle d. 1638, south side marble wall monument by T Gould to John Nickolls of Brightley, d.1850. St Hieritha Church is one of the larger North Devon Churches, is of interest for its few early building phases, being entirely C15/C16, and for its exceptionally fine west tower 'unquestionably the finest church tower in Devon' (Hoskins).
Date first listed: 20th February 1967.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV171Migrated Record: REICHEL, 1928-1938.
SDV25789Migrated Record: CRESSWELL.
SDV2587Migrated Record: REICHEL, 1897.
SDV325822Migrated Record: Department of Environment.
SDV33437Migrated Record: Chope, R. P..
SDV347844Report - Watching Brief: Exeter Archaeology. 2008. Archaeological Recording in the Lady Chapel, the Church of St. Hieritha, Chittlehampton, Devon. Exeter Archaeology Report. 08.71. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV359963National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2017. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1273408.
SDV361663Article in Serial: Orme, N. + Webster, M.. 2010. The Medieval Church in North Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 142. Paperback Volume. 49-72.
SDV38008Migrated Record: Were, F..
SDV412Migrated Record:
SDV44526Migrated Record: RUSHFORTH.
SDV54833Migrated Record: KERSLAKE.
SDV84573Migrated Record: Price, D. G..
SDV85711Migrated Record: ANDREWS, 1962.
SDV85718Migrated Record: ANDREWS, 1945-1955.
SDV85719Migrated Record: ANDREWS, 1956-1958.
SDV85720Migrated Record: ANDREWS, 1956-1958,P.171.
SDV85725Migrated Record:
SDV85726Migrated Record:
SDV85727Migrated Record:
SDV85728Migrated Record:
SDV85729Migrated Record:
SDV85730Migrated Record:
SDV85731Migrated Record:
SDV85732Migrated Record:
SDV85733Migrated Record:
SDV85734Migrated Record:
SDV85735Migrated Record:
SDV85736Migrated Record:
SDV85737Migrated Record:
SDV85738Migrated Record:
SDV85739Migrated Record:
SDV85740Migrated Record:
SDV85741Migrated Record:
SDV85742Migrated Record:
SDV85743Migrated Record:
SDV85744Migrated Record:

Associated Monuments

MDV992Related to: Cross in the Churchyard at Chittlehampton Church (Monument)
MDV991Related to: SCHOOL in the Parish of Chittlehampton (Monument)
MDV989Related to: St. Urith's Well, Chittlehampton (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5305 - Archaeological Recording in the Lady Chapel, St. Hieritha
  • EDV6489 - Watching Brief, St Hieritha’s Church, Chittlehampton, Devon. (Ref: OA1161)

Date Last Edited:Aug 2 2018 9:15AM