COUNTISBURY SS 74 NW 3/30 Church of Saint John 25.2.65 GV II* Parish church. C18 and C19 rebuilding of an earlier church. Nave rebuilt and porch probably added in 1796. Nave also probably further remodelled in the mid C19. Tower dated 1836, and chancel rebuilt and vestry and north aisle added in 1846, at the expense of the Revd. Walter Stevenson Halliday of Glenthorne (q.v). Coursed stone rubble, C19 work roughly coursed with dressed quoins and ashlar dressings to openings. Slate roofs. Plan: 3-bay nave with north aisle and south porch, chancel with lean-to north vestry, and west tower. Straight joints flanking south door of nave possibly indicate the survival of part of the old fabric or C19 rebuilding at C18 work. Mid- C19 work in a Perpendicular Gothic style. Exterior: unbuttressed west tower of 3 stages. Chamfered plinth, offsets to each stage with moulded string courses and battlemented parapet with stone coping and corner pinnacles with globe finials. 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". Louvred round-arched belfry openings. 2-light window in second stage to west with dressed voussoirs and keystone wooden Y-tracery and diamond leading. Boarded door to north with wooden lintel. Nave: south side with rendered plinth and pair of probably mid C19 square-headed windows of 3 hollow-chamfered Tudor-arched lights, chamfered reveals, flat arches and returned hoodmould. Central late C19 shallow-pointed arched entrance and C19 boarded door with wrought-iron strap hinges. Porch with rendered plinth and plain barge boards, and round-arched entrance with C19 moulded stone hoodmould which has scrolled stops. 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 vault. North aisle: centre window of 2 trefoil-headed lights and outer windows of 2 four- centred arched lights; all diamond leaded. Chancel: diamond-leaded trefoil-headed lancet to south set in square-headed recess with returned hoodmould. 4-centred arched east window with 2 diamond-leaded lights, Y-tracery deeply splayed moulded reveals and hoodmould. Vestry has pair of 2-light wooden casements with wrought-iron bars. Interior: plastered walls. Plastered barrel-vaulted nave roof. 2-bay north aisle of 1846 consisting of octagonal piers with chamfered plinths and moulded capitals, and chamfered 4-centred arches. Plastered barrel-vaulted aisle roof with moulded wooden wall plate. Mid-C19 round chancel arch with moulded front and rear edges, moulded imposts and small moulded corbels. Chancel roof with scissor-braced turned rafters, ashlar pieces and moulded wooden wall plates. Windows with segmental rear arches, with jambs stripped of plaster in nave. Fittings: mid C19 painted wooden reredos flanking east window, of 4 panels, the lower 2 with the Lord's Prayer and Creed and the upper 2 with the commandments and Tudor-arched heads, moulded plinth and cill string and moulded cornice carried up over the window. C19 wooden altar, flanked by large free-standing C20 wooden candlesticks. Wooden dado panelling to chancel, ramped up to east end, incorporating a well-carved medieval bench end depicting a swan with crown around its neck, lettering above and trefoil with shield below. C19 choir stalls. C19 trefoil-arched arcaded altar rails. Probable old rectangular stone piscina with chamfered drain, on C20 wooden frame. Fine chancel screen of circa 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. C19 pews and matchboarded dado in nave and aisle. C19 carved wooden octagonal pulpit with carved stem and foliage panels, and reader's desk with traceried front. C19 carved wooden lectern. C19 octagonal stone front with trefoil-headed panels to step, moulded base, bowl with carved quatrefoil panels, and painted wooden cover with carved quatrefoil panels and pyramidal top with finial. 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. Pair of C19 brass candlesticks fixed to north wall of nave. Monuments: pair of painted C18 wooden tablets on north wall of nave with original colour, including gilding, marbling etc. Left-hand one illegible, consisting of lugged architrave, pedimented top with cherub and scrolled brackets below. Right- hand one in memory of Christopher Slocombe Asheon (d. 5 February 1781, aged 39 years), consisting of flanking fluted pilasters with cornices and globe finials above and resting on scrolled brackets, around top with cherubs and shaped base with shield. Stone tablet on south wall of nave in memory of John Fry of Wilsham (d. 3 November 1762, aged 47 years) with painted shaped head and cherub. 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. N. Pevsner Buildings of England North Devon, p.79; Beatrix F. Cresswell, Notes on Devon Churches, Deanery of Shirwell, pp. 84 - 91.
Listing NGR: SS7471549769