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Some Old Devon Churches

By J. Stabb

London: Simpkin et al (1908-16)

Page 30

Transcribed and edited by Dr Roger Peters

Full text available at

Prepared by Michael Steer

Between 1908 and 1916, John Stabb, an ecclesiologist and photographer who lived in Torquay, published three volumes of Some Old Devon Churches and one of Devon Church Antiquities. A projected second volume of the latter, regarded by Stabb himself as a complement to the former, did not materialize because of his untimely death on August 2nd 1917, aged 52. Collectively, Stabb's four volumes present descriptions of 261 Devon churches and their antiquities.

BRANSCOMBE. St. Winifred. The church [plates 30a and 30b] is cruciform, consisting of chancel, with priest's door, nave, north and south transepts, south porch, and central tower with six bells. There is an old western gallery, entered by an exterior staircase, and in the nave an old "three-decker" pulpit, probably the only one remaining in Devonshire.

The altar has old railings in the front [plate 30c], on the south side, and partially at the back and on the north side; it appears as if the altar at one time had been placed further west, and been entirely surrounded by railings.

On the north side of the chancel is the monument of the Bartlett family, removed here from the transept.

In the north transept is the monument of Mrs. Wadham, mother of the founder of Wadham College, Oxford, and her two husbands, John Kellaway and John Wadham. On the monument are sculptured effigies of her two husbands, a figure of herself behind each, and the figures of her children. She must have been prolific, as there are twelve children behind the first husband, and six behind the second, and there are signs of other figures having been removed. The monument has the following inscription:- Here lieth entombed the body of a virtuous and antient gentlewoman descended of the antient house of the Plantagenets, sometime of Cornwall, namely Joan one of the daughters of and heir unto John Tregarthen, in the County of Cornwall, Esq. She was first married unto John Kellaway, Esq., who had by her much issue. After his death she was married to John Wadham of Mayfied in the County of Somerset, Esq., and by him had several children. She lived a virtuous and godly life and died in an honourable old age September in the year of Christ 1583.

On the arch of the nave are hung the Commandments, Lord's Prayer, and the arms of George IV [r. 1820-1830]. The gallery front is carved, there are old high-backed pews, and the church has evidently not been restored for a great many years.

The font [plate 30d] is a curiosity; there is a fluted stone pillar with bowl, possibly never intended for a font; in the bowl is an ordinary quart earthenware pudding basin. This identical basin has been used for the baptisms of many generations.

In the churchyard is the following epitaph:-

Here lieth the body
of Joseph Braddick of this
parish who died the 27th day of June
1673 in the 40th year of his age.


"Strong and at labour
Suddenly he reels
Death came behind him
And stroke up his heels
Such sudden stroke
Surviving mortals bid ye
Stand on your watch
And to be always ready."

The registers date: baptisms, 1539; marriages, 1545; burials, 1578

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Last updated: 20 Jun 2007 - Brian Randell

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