SOME OLD DEVON CHURCHES [A richly illustrated trilogy by John Stabb; published by Simpkin et al., London, 1908-1916; transcribed and edited by Dr. Roger Peters.]

Devon, a county in the south-west peninsular of England, has a rich ecclesiastical history. Between 1908 and 1916, John Stabb, an ecclesiologist and photographer who lived in the coastal town of 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 2nd August 1917, aged 52. Collectively, Stabb's four volumes present descriptions of 261 Devon churches and their antiquities — illustrated with over 500 superb black-and-white photographs.

Stabb's extensive but non-systematic survey of Devonshire churches at the turn of the 20th century inevitably compares unfavourably with modern surveys in this genre; furthermore, the reader may occasionally be quite disconcerted by his awkward grammar and punctuation. Nevertheless, Jean de Laborde's comments about the composer Boismortier — "Although his works have long been forgotten, whoever will take the trouble to search this abandoned mine will find enough gold flakes to make an ingot." — may coincidentally apply to Stabb, as evinced by a mere three of his «gold flakes»: first, a personal comment, "The Royal arms also in many cases took the place of the crucifix on the rood screen. Why gazing upon the lion and the unicorn should be supposed to be a greater assistance to spiritual worship than having the sign of our redemption before our eyes during Divine Service, I confess I do not know."; second, an epitaph on a gravestone, "Here I lie at the chancel door, Here I lie because I'm poor, The farther in the more you'll pay, Here lie I as warm as they."; and third, an inscription on a tombstone, "This marble weeps it can't refrain, The loss so great it must complaine, The parents then must needs exceed, And be a weeping monument indeed."

The reader may wish to note the following differences between this transcription and the printed volumes of Some Old Devon Churches: firstly, the interpolation of the complementary text and photographs from Devon Church Antiquities; secondly, the incorporation of Stabb's own cross-references by hypertext links; thirdly, the internal standardization of capitalization, hyphenation, and orthography (except for inscriptions and quotations, which have been transcribed verbatim); and fourthly, the discreet correction of each factual error (where determined).

The complete transcription (232 A4 pages of text + 508 scanned photographs), as linked documents, may be downloaded as one zipped archive (; 13.2 MB); the downloading time is about 50 minutes with a (narrow-band) 56K modem. Alternatively, the same may be downloaded via the 23 files shown in the table below; aside from the first, each one is between 400 and 850 kB and should download in about 2 or 3 minutes with a 56K modem.

stabb000.htm [245 kb]: Stabb's Prefaces and Explanatory Notes on Rood Screens and Church Antiquities; [Editorial Notes, Index of Churches and Photographs, Additional Bibliographic Information, Glossary, and Sketch Map of Devon].

stabb001.htm [755 kB]: Abbots Bickington; Abbotskerswell; Alphington; Ashburton; Ashcombe; Ashton; Ashwater; Atherington; Aveton Gifford; Awliscombe; Axminster; Axmouth.

stabb013.htm [770 kB]: Bampton; Beer Ferrers; Berry Pomeroy; Bickington, High; Bickleigh; Bideford; Bishop's Tawton; Bishopsteignton; Blackawton; Black Torrington; Bondleigh; Bovey Tracey.

stabb025.htm [705 kB]: Bow; Bradford; Bradninch; Bradworthy; Bramford Speke; Branscombe; Bratton Colvelly; Braunton; Bridford; Bridgerule; Brixham; Broad Clyst.

stabb037.htm [500 kB]: Broadhembury; Broad Hempston; Brushford; Buckerell; Buckfastleigh; Buckland-in-the-Moor; Buckland Monachorum; Budleigh, East; Bulkworthy; Burlescombe; Burrington; Butterleigh.

stabb049.htm [555 kB]: Cadeleigh; Calverleigh; Chawleigh; Cheriton Bishop; Cheriton Fitzpaine; Chittlehampton; Chivelstone; Christow; Chudleigh; Chulmleigh; Churston Ferrers; Clawton.

stabb061.htm [745 kB]: Clyst St. Lawrence; Cockington; Coffinswell; Cofton; Colebrook; Coleridge; Colyton; Combe-in-Teignhead; Combe Martin; Cookbury; Cornworthy; Cotleigh.

stabb073.htm [635 kB]: Crediton; Cruwys Morchard; Cullompton; Culmstock; Dartington; Dartmouth, St. Petrock; Dartmouth, St. Saviour; Dean Prior; Denbury; Diptford; Dittisham; Dodbrooke.

stabb085.htm [850 kB]: Doddiscombsleigh; Dolton; Dowland; Down St. Mary; Drewsteignton; Dunchideock; Dunkeswell; Dunsford; East Allington; Ermington; Exbourne; Exeter, Heavitree.

stabb097.htm [560 kB]: Exeter, St. Lawrence; Exeter, St. Martin; Exeter, St. Mary Arches; Exeter, St. Mary Major; Exeter, St. Mary Steps; Exeter, St. Olave; Exeter, St. Pancras; Exeter, St. Petrock; Exminster; Farway; Feniton; Gidleigh.

stabb109.htm [705 kB]: Gittisham; Haccombe; Halberton; Harberton; Harford; Hartland; Heanton Punchardon; Hemyock; Hennock; High Hampton; Hittesleigh; Holbeton.

stabb121.htm [540 kB]: Holcombe Burnell; Holcombe Rogus; Hollacombe; Holne; Holsworthy; Honeychurch; Honiton; Huish, North; Huxham; Iddesleigh; Ilfracombe; Ilsington.

stabb133.htm [680 kB]: Inwardleigh; Ipplepen; Ivybridge; Kenn; Kentisbeare; Kenton; Kingsbridge; Kingskerswell; Kings Nympton; Kingsteignton; Lapford; Lew Trenchard.

stabb145.htm [610 kB]: Littleham — Bideford; Littleham — Exmouth; Little Hempston; Loddiswell; Loxbeare; Luffincott; Luppit; Lustleigh; Lydford; Malborough; Manaton; Mariansleigh.

stabb157.htm [580 kB]: Marldon; Marwood; Membury; Milton Damerel; Molland; Monkleigh; Morchard Bishop; Moretonhampstead; Mortehoe; Musbury; Netherexe; Newton St. Cyres.

stabb169.htm [595 kB]: Newton St. Petrock; North Bovey; Northleigh; North Tawton; Ogwell, East; Ogwell, West; Okehampton; Ottery St. Mary; Paignton; Pancraswyke; Parracombe; Payhembury.

stabb181.htm [650 kB]: Pilton; Pinhoe; Plymouth, St. Andrew; Plympton, St. Mary; Plympton, St. Maurice; Plymstock; Plymtree; Poltimore; Portlemouth; Powderham; Pyworthy; Rattery.

stabb193.htm [415 kB]: Rewe; Rockbeare; Rose Ash; Sampford Courtenay; Sampford Peverell; Sandford; Satterleigh; Shaldon, St. Nicholas; Shaldon, St. Peter; Shaugh Prior; Shebbear; Sheepwash.

stabb205.htm [655 kB]: Sherford; Shillingford; Slapton; South Brent; Southleigh; South Milton; South Pool; South Tawton; Spreyton; Staverton; St. Budeaux; St. John-in-the-Wilderness.

stabb217.htm [795 kb]: St. Mary Church; Stockleigh English ; Stockleigh Pomeroy; Stoke Canon; Stoke Fleming; Stoke Gabriel; Stoke-in-Teignhead; Stokenham; Sutcombe; Swymbridge; Talaton; Tawstock.

stabb229.htm [675 kB]: Tetcott; Thornbury; Thorverton; Throwleigh; Thurlestone; Tiverton; Topsham; Torbryan; Torre, Torquay; Totnes; Townstall, Dartmouth; Trusham.

stabb241.htm [440 kB]: Uffculme; Ugborough; Upexe; Upton Helions; Upton Pyne; Warkleigh; Washfield; Welcombe; Wembworthy; West Alvington; Whimple; Whitchurch.

stabb253.htm [575 kB]: Widecombe-in-the-Moor; Widworthy; Willand; Witheridge; Wolborough; Woodbury; Woodleigh; Worlington East; Worlington West.


1. Stabb, J., Some Old Devon Churches, Their Rood Screens, Pulpits, Fonts, Etc., Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, & Co., London, Vol. I, 1908; ibid., Vol. II, 1911; ibid., Vol. III, 1916. [Cameron Newham, who is currently undertaking the Herculean and altruistic task of photographically documenting all of the rural parish churches in England, is republishing John Stabb's text alongside hundreds of breathtaking new colour photographs; Newham, C. B., Some Old Devon Churches, Vol. I (covering Abbots Bickington to Butterleigh; 168 pp.), DAE Publishing, 2009 (ISBN 978-1-906265-01-4); Some Old Devon Churches, Vol. II (covering Cadeleigh to Dunsford; 160 pp.), DAE Publishing, 2014 (ISBN 978-1-906265-02-1).];

2. Stabb, J., Devon Church Antiquities, being a Description of Many Objects of Interest in the Old Parish Churches of Devonshire, Simpkin et al., London, Vol. I, 1909.

3. Laborde de, J. B., Essai sur la Musique Ancienne et Moderne, Onfroy, Paris, 1780.

4. A sketch map of Devon:

Sketch map of Devon, England.

5. R. Peters' Home Page
[December 2004]