Historic Environment Record images

MDE20045 - St John the Evangelist Church, Countisbury

ENPHER Number:MDE20045
Name:St John the Evangelist Church, Countisbury
Type of Record:Building
Grid Reference:SS 7472 4976

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record caveat document.


The church is an 18th and 19th Century rebuilding of an earlier church. It contains a reset medieval bench end with crowned swan and arms and a screen dating to c.1700. Some of the internal architectural features are Perpendicular.


Church of St. John.  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Church of St. John. © Exmoor National Park Authority

Church of St. John.  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Church of St. John. © Exmoor National Park Authority

Gravestone of Gunner Basil Pennicott, St John the Baptist Churchyard  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Gravestone of Gunner Basil Pennicott, St John the Baptist Churchyard © Exmoor National Park Authority

Monument Types

  • CHURCHYARD (Medieval to Modern - 1066 AD? to 2050 AD (Possible))
  • PARISH CHURCH (AD 18th Century to Modern - 1700 AD? to 2050 AD (Possible))

Designated Status

  • Listed Building (II*) 1289192: CHURCH OF SAINT JOHN


Parish Church of St John. 18th and 19th Century rebuilding of an earlier church. Nave rebuilt and porch probably added in 1796. Nave also probably further remodelled in the mid 19th Century. The tower is dated to 1836. In 1846 the chancel was rebuilt and vestry and north aisle were added at the expense of the Revd Walter Stevenson Halliday of Glenthorne. [1]

Parish church of St John the Baptist. Rebuilt and enlarged at various times between 1796 and 1846. It contains a post-Reformation chancel screen upon which a late 17th Century classic pediment is superimposed. [3]

St John the Evangelist. Very high up, with views on all sides, at the start of the path to Foreland Point. Tower rebuilt in 1835, with obelisks and balls instead of pinnacles. Nave 1796, chancel 1846. North arcade also 1846, with one octagonal pier and low arches. The furnishings are still pre-ecclesiological, with texts under Perpendicular arches on the east wall flanking a Perpendicular east window with stained glass only as coloured borders. One reset medieval bench end (chancel south wall) with crowned swan and arms. The only other feature of real interest is the screen with big long balusters, a fully developed cornice and a broken pediment above, all well carved, about 1700. [4]

Unbuttressed west tower of 3 stages. Base of south-east pinnacle inscribed: "RVD WS/HALLIDAY/1836", south-west pinnacle inscribed: "RVD W S/H/1836" and north-west pinnacle inscribed: "W R/BUILDR". Renewed slate sundial above entrance, with inscription : "TIS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD". Interior of porch with stone floor, stone side benches and plaster barrel vaultl. Old organ at east end of aisle: "CASSON'S PATENT/POSITIVE ORGAN CO. LTD/LONDON/OP. 127". Painted Royal Coat of Arms (George IV) on west wall of nave with date (1837) at corners of wooden frame and painted inscription: "GUEIELMUS IV BRITT REX". Below coat of arms is carved wooden Prince of Wales feathers mounted on board with motto and date, 10th March 1863. . In 1832 the old chancel and tower still survived. The Revd W S. Halliday began Glenthorne (q.v), his house nearby in 1829 and carried out much work on the estate in the following years including the virtual rebuilding of the Church. [5-7]

Parish Church of St John the Baptist, rood screen. Probably of no great interest or antiquity.
Renewed slate sundial above entrance, with inscription: 'Tis time to seek the Lord'. [8]

Fine chancel screen of around 1700 with panelled lower part, turned balusters above, chamfered square posts with scrolled stops, top rail with carved egg and dart ornament, small turned urns above balusters and large urns above posts, and wide open triangular pediment above with carved acanthus modillions alternating with carved square pateral, egg and dart enrichment etc. [9]

Parish Church of St John the Baptist, sundial. Dial shows clear indications of having been heavily painted in gold and black. Gnomon made of solid metal. Motto: 'My times are in thy hands'. Undated. [10]

Gunner Basil Pennicott of the Royal Artillery was killed in August 1940 and is buried in the churchyard. His headstone is maintained by the CWGC. [11]

The building was visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 5. [12]

This is depicted on the 1840 Lynton Tithe map, where a side view is drawn, rather than it being visible in plan. It is visible in plan on the c. 1841 Countisbury Tithe map. [13, 14]

Modern MasterMap data simply describes the site as St John's Church. An e-mail to the HER confirms that the dedication of the church is to St John the Evangelist. [15,16]

<1> Department of Environment, 1988, Countisbury, 24-5 (Index). SDE66787.

<2> Chanter, J.F., 1906, The Parishes of Lynton and Countisbury, 219-21 (Article in serial). SEM6795.

<3> Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 378 (Monograph). SEM7486.

<4> Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N., 1999, The Buildings of England: Devon, 292 (Monograph). SMO4764.

<5> Ordnance Survey, 1903/1938, 3NW & SW* 6" (Cartographic materials). SDE70016.

<6> Cresswell, B. F., Notes on Devon Churches, Deanery of Shirwell (Unassigned). SEM7736.

<7> English Heritage, 1965, Countisbury, LBS No 397606 (Index). SDE323101.

<8> Bond, F. B., 1903, Devonshire Screens and Rood Lofts Part II, 453 (Article in serial). SDE15320.

<9> Department of Environment, 1988, Countisbury, 24 (Index). SDE66787.

<10> Crowley, J., 1957, Sundials in North Devon, 180, 182, 185 (Article in serial). SDE273904.

<11> Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website, http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2441404/PENNICOTT,%20BASIL (Website). SEM7925.

<12> Lawrence, G., 2014, Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13 (Report). SEM8060.

<13> 1840, Lynton and Lynmouth Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment (Map). SEM7677.

<14> <1841, Countisbury Tithe Map and Apportionment (Map). SEM8072.

<15> Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Map). SEM8512.

<16> Gurney, J., 2017, St John Countisbury (Unpublished document). SEM8542.

Related Pages

Other References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5): 1549/3/30
  • Church Heritage Record ID: 615473
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 678
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 679
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 680
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/13
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/13/1
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/13/2
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20043
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20044
  • Local List Status (No)
Date Last Edited:Mar 5 2018 3:47PM


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