MDE7975 - St Petrock's Church, Churchtown, Parracombe (Building)
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Type and Period (1)
SS 67474495. St Peter's Church [TU].  St. Peter's Church (Mortuary Chapel) was formerly called St. Helen's Church. [2,3] Formerly the parish church, until it was superceded by Christ Church nearer the village centre in 1878. "The exceptional charm of the interior of the church is that it has never been restored. It is still much as it was two hundred years ago". The font is probably Norman, and has a circular bowl set on 4 semi-circular half-shafts. It was originally at Martinhoe Church and brought here in 1908.  St Petrock's had become structurally unsound and was in danger of collapse.  Of the present structure the earliest part is the tower which dates from the late 12th Century. Most of the building dates from the 15th Century. St Petrock's Church is now in the care of the Redundent Churches Fund and is used only occasionally for services. Structural work to the building was undertaken in 1969, 1971 and 1982. [4-6] St. Petroc is a Cornish saint better known in the Bodmin and Padstow area. There is a tradition that St. Petroc built a small church of cob and wattle with a straw roof almost 1500 years ago. The siting of the 12th Century church and the primary school away from the village centre is probably a reflection of the fact that they each were built to serve a large parish. Their situation was thus considered more convenient than close to the valley bottom. The church was dedicated to St. Petrock. First church built here by St. Petrock circa 525 AD on his arrival from south wales. The original building was constructed of cob and wattle and thatched with straw. The structure has undergone many rebuildings. First stone church erected by William of Falese, a near relative of William the Conqueror; the oldest portion of the present buildings being the tower which is dated about 1180. The church contained an early english chancel built by the St. Albans, who obtained the manor of Parracombe about 1200. Present church mainly 15th Century, with part of the south wall being rebuilt in the 17th Century. The church was damaged by lightning in 1906. Font found in a duck pond in a neighbouring parish and presented to the church by the churchwarden, Mr. Allison, in 1906. Interior is plastered and whitewashed, all roofs are ceiled and whitewashed. Several early sixteenth century benches; old musicians' gallery at the back; georgian pulpit; hat pegs; 18th Century screen with a wooden tympanum above; 18th Century box pews; inscribed wall plaques. New church built nearer the village in 1878, although St. Petrock repaired that same year through the efforts of preb. J.F. Chanter, the new rector. [7-8] In 1984 extensive work carried out to the structure of the church.  Church of St. Petrock. Former parish church now redundant. The chancel and probably most of the fabric of the west tower date to the 13th Century. Nave, south aisle and south porch are late 15th or early 16th Century in date. Interior fittings almost entirely 17th and 18th Century. The church was unrestored in 19th Century as new church was built on a new site nearer village. Rood Screen: Low chancel screen, straight-headed, of four narrow lights to left, six lights to right with cusped ogee arches and traceried heads. Above is a timber boarded tympanum with the lords prayer, ten commandments and creed in four panels and the royal arms above. Font: probably Norman with circular bowl set on four semi-circular half-shafts with engaged colonnettes at the corners. It originated at Martinhoe Church and was brought here in 1908. Slate sundial above ceiled waggon roof. Pulpit of 3 decker type with ministers reading desk and clerks seat attached. Pulpit has 4 principal facets with 3 fielded panels to each facet end fluted frieze door with 3 fielded panels. Octagonal sounding board above with painted soffit and verse 'we preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ the Lord' around the sides.  St Peter's Church marked the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map.  Chanter notes the early dedication to the Celtic saint, St. Petrock.  St. Petrock, church; sundial. Dated 1726.  Church of St. Petrock, rood screen. Consists of narrow rectangular lights containing tracery. Tympanum fills chancel arch over screen, displays arms of george. Rood beam extant in 1780 but later cut up for bench ends. [15-16] Part of a churchyard cross is built into one of the tower buttresses. Copeland says that this fragment is a rectangular block of greenish stone which occupies the full width of the buttress. Of the three exposed sides, the front is plain, whilst the two sides are ornamented with panels slightly recessed. One side bears a quatrefoil and the other a cross-saltire. No definite evidence for regarding it as part of a cross.  At SS 6745 4494 is a medieval cross base, possibly of a former churchyard cross, set into the southwest buttress of the tower as part of the fabric. It is of red sandstone 0.8 metres square and 0.4 metres deep with two ornamented sides exposed.  A block of curved sandstone built into the southwest tower of St Patrick's Church. It measures 0.46 metres by 0.48 metres and is 0.64 metres high. Two of the visible faces have decoration on them. That facing north-west has a cross-saltire and that facing south-east has a quatrefoil. The decoration is very well preserved, suggesting that it has been concealed; traces of possible plaster or render are visible in places on the decorated surface of the stone. No other similar fragments are visible on the building and it is by no means certain that it is part of a cross base.  The building was visited in September 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. It received a BAR score of 6.  The former Parish Church of St. Petroc is a landmark building with a remarkable history. Some sources suggest it was founded by William of Falaise, a close relative of William the Conqueror. Much of the present structure is of 13th to early 16th Century date, in a plain Perpendicular style. Its main quality is the completeness of its 17th or 18th Century interior fittings, including a three tier pulpit, box pews , screen with tympanum above, painted text boards and mural tablets to local yeomen. It completely escaped Victorian “restoration” because it was proposed in 1879 that, owing to fears about structural stability, it would be demolished and a new church built on the site. A wave of protest was led by John Ruskin, who offered to help fund a new church elsewhere to avoid what he said would be an “act of vandalism.” It managed to weather storms and structural problems until declared redundant in 1969. At this time and again in 1982 it required extensive repairs. It was the first church in the country to be vested in the Churches Conservation Trust in 1971, and is one of the most visited of the 300 or so churches the Trust now cares for.  The church has been mapped from the data on the 2018 MasterMap.  A group of photographs and a file of materials relating to the church is held by the Historic England Archive. [26-36] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [37,38]
- <1> SEM7770 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1905. 6 Inch Map: 1905. 1:10560.
- <2> SMO5308 Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. J.F. Chanter, Rector.
- <3> SMO7303 Unpublished document: BUCKLEY, MHB. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 22 August 1972.
- <4> SMO4764 Monograph: Cherry, B. + Pevsner, N.. 1999. The Buildings of England: Devon. Penguin Books. 2nd Edition. 624.
- <5> SDE65806 Monograph: Bulmer-Thomas, I.. 1987. Guide to St. Petrock's, Parracombe, Devon.
- <6> SMO7329 Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 4 October 1993.
- <7> SDE65805 Article in serial: Waterfield, R.. 1928. Proceedings at the 67th Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 60. P. 29.
- <8> SDE65798 Monograph: Cresswell, B. F.. 1924. Notes on Devon Churches.
- <9> SDE77 Article in serial: Unknown. 28/02/1984. Article in the Western Morning News. Western Morning News.
- <10> SMO5109 Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: Parracombe (9 April 1987) 71-72.
- <11> SEM6776 Article in serial: Pearce, S.M.. 1985. The Early Church in the Landscape: The Evidence from North Devon. Archaeological Journal. 142. P. 263.
- <12> SDE65803 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1903/38. 6 Inch: 1903-38. 1:10560.
- <13> SDE870 Article in serial: Chanter, J.F.. 1910. Christianity in Devon before AD 909. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 42.
- <14> SMO5393 Serial: Devonshire Association. 1862 -. Devonshire Association reports and transactions. Volume 89 (1957), Sundials in North Devon, 179, 184 (J Crowley).
- <15> SDE54972 Article in serial: Bond, F. B.. 1902. Devonshire Screens and Rood Lofts Part I. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 34. Plate 25.
- <16> SDE15320 Article in serial: Bond, F. B.. 1903. Devonshire Screens and Rood Lofts Part II. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 35.
- <17> SDE5785 Article in serial: Masson Phillips, E. N.. 1938. The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 70. 2.
- <18> SMO7320 Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 6 September 1972.
- <19> SMO7329 Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1 October 1993.
- <20> SEM8060 Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
- <21> SEM8174 Leaflet: Bulmer-Thomas, I.. 2006. Church of St Petrock, Parracombe, Devon. The Churches Conservation Trust.
- <22> SEM6948 Report: Fisher, J.. 2004. Parracombe: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. 5, 7, 8, 11-12.
- <23> SEM8367 Monograph: Bulmer-Thomas, I.. 1987. Guide to St Petrock's, Parracombe, Devon. Redundant Churches Fund.
- <24>XY SEM8545 Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #46414 ]
- <25> SEM340838 Unpublished document: Blaylock, S.R.. 2020. St Petrock's (old church) Parracombe, Devon: Summary of a lecture on 20.ix.19.
- <26> SEM340884 Photograph: Unknown. 1900-1950. View of the interior of the disused St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, looking towards the south doorway. Colour. Print.
- <27> SEM340885 Photograph: Unknown. 1970. View of St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, from the south-east. Unknown. Print.
- <28> SEM340886 Photograph: Unknown. 1970. View of St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, from the south-west. Unknown. Print.
- <29> SEM340887 Photograph: Unknown. 1900-1930. View of the doorway to St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, with collapsed stonework in the porch. Unknown. Postcard.
- <30> SEM340888 Photograph: Unknown. 1935-1955. View of the interior of the disused St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, looking across the nave. Unknown. Print.
- <31> SEM340889 Photograph: Unknown. 1900-1930. View of the disused St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, from the south-west, showing damaged stonework on the tower. Unknown. Postcard.
- <32> SEM340890 Photograph: Unknown. 1900-1930. View of the east end of the disused St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, from the south-east, showing damaged roof tiles. Unknown. Postcard.
- <33> SEM340891 Photograph: Unknown. 1900-1930. View of the disused St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, from the south, with a woman and children standing at the gate. Unknown. Postcard.
- <34> SEM340892 Photograph: Unknown. 1900-1930. View of the interior of the disused St Petrock's Church, Parracombe, showing damaged stonework in the south-east corner of the chancel. Unknown. Postcard.
- <35> SEM340893 Photograph: Pearce, B.. 2002. Church of St Petrocks. Colour. Digital.
- <36> SEM340894 Archive: Unknown. Unknown. Volume: St Petroc's Church, PARRACOMBE.
- <37> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 34702, Extant 9 November 2021.
- <38> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 34745, Extant 10 November 2021.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 6747 4494 (24m by 18m)|
|Civil Parish||PARRACOMBE, NORTH DEVON, DEVON|
Related Monuments/Buildings (3)
Related Events/Activities (3)
External Links (2)
- 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (6): 1544/6/122
- Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS64SE/12
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 2074
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 2075
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 2076
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 2077
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 37660
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 37661
- Devon SMR: SS64SE/12/3
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE1053
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE1068
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20134
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20135
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20136
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20137
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21298
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21299
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE11
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE26
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- NBR Index Number: 51522
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 34702
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 34745
Record last edited
Nov 10 2021 12:42PM
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