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Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A Grade I Listed Building in Offwell, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7901 / 50°47'24"N

Longitude: -3.1436 / 3°8'37"W

OS Eastings: 319485

OS Northings: 99575

OS Grid: SY194995

Mapcode National: GBR LZ.ZHDY

Mapcode Global: FRA 4790.3EG

Plus Code: 9C2RQVR4+3H

Entry Name: Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Listing Date: 22 February 1955

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1104090

English Heritage Legacy ID: 88785

Location: Offwell, East Devon, Devon, EX14

County: Devon

District: East Devon

Civil Parish: Offwell

Built-Up Area: Offwell

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Offwell St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Tagged with: Church building

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3/115 Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Parish church. C13 origins and some parts may be that early but most was rebuilt in
the C15, much restored by the Reverend Edward Copleston, Bishop of Llandaff and Dean
of St Pauls (d. 1849), and refurbished in 1874 according to dated rainwater head.
Local stone and flint rubble with Beerstone quoins and detail; slate roof.
Plan: the nave with narrower and lower chancel is not quite full length; the chapel
is now used as a bapistry. C15 west tower. Early C19 south porch and late C19
vestry on south side of the chancel.
Exterior: the west tower is 2 stages with diagonal buttresses, embattled parapet
and semi-octagonal stair turret projecting from the north side. The belfry has
single and double lancets with Beerstone grilles. The tower west doorway is a 2-
centred arch with moulded surround and directly above is a 3-light window with
Perpendicular tracery. Around the church most of the windows were replaced in the
C19 and the gable-ends have C19 shaped kneelers, coping and apex crosses.
The south side of the nave is 3 bays, the centre one with the doorway and gabled
porch with diagonal buttresses. The outer arch is a 2-centred arch in Early English
style; moulded surround with caps to the shafts, a band of ballflower decoration and
hoodmould with badges carved on the label stops. Above is an old sundial. The
porch has a cobbled floor and the south doorway is a plain 2-centred arch. Either
side of the porch are square-headed 3-light windows with trefoil-headed lights
(there are 3 more on the north side of the aisle). The south side of the chancel
has a single rectangular light since most of this side lies behind the C19 gabled
vestry which contains a window with Decorated tracery. The east end of the chancel
has a large 3-light window with Perpendicular tracery and there are similar windows
each end of the aisle.
Interior: both nave and aisle have ceiled wagon roofs with moulded purlins and
ribs. These maybe C15 but the carved bosses at least are C19 replacements. The
chancel has a plaster vault of indeterminate date. Tall tower arch with moulded
surround. The chancel arch is round (almost horseshoe shaped) headed with chamfered
surround. 3-bay arcade with moulded Beerstone piers (Pevsners type A) and carved
capitals. A fourth arch between chancel and north chapel has its soffit and sides
lined with Beerstone trefoil-headed panels. The walls are plastered and the floor
C19 Beerstone reredos is a blind Gothic arcade. The sedelia to south of the
sanctuary and piscina to north are the same style. C19 oak altar rail on Gothic
style timber standards. The stalls are C19 but made up from the C18 stalls with
fielded panelling. The lectern was made in 1935 but includes some good C17 oak
carving including a panel representing the Last Supper. The fine 3-decker pulpit
was erected in 1724 and is missing only its sounding board. The carved figures of
the Evangelists were added to the panels in 1784. It is said to conceal the stone
base of the previous pulpit. The box pews were installed in 1798 but reconstructed
in 1853. The tower screen is 2 bays of a good C15 oak chancel screen which came
from the Church of St Mary Major, Exeter in 1970. The font is in the former north
chapel. It is late C15 - early C16, Beerstone with octagonal bowl carved with
quatrefoil panels enriched with 4-leaf motifs, carved foliage around the base and
panelled stem. It has a late C17 oak cover with broken ogee profile and surmounted
by an eagle with a hook for the former hoisting chain. The reredos here is a fine
piece of carved C16 oak panelling; the centre panel is a representation of Jesus
carrying the cross and the flanking panels have representations of the Evangelists.
The carvings which may be Flemish were brought here by Bishop Copleston.
Monuments: the oldest, in the aisle, is in memory of Joana Southcott (d. 1696); the
plaque has a bolection frame under a swan-necked pediment and cartouche containing
armorial bearings and the apron below is carved foliage. Over the south door a
memorial to John Ford (d. 1729) and his wife Mary (d. 1742). The chancel contains a
group of C19 marble memorials mostly to members of the Copleston family.
Royal arms were painted in 1974 and some painted texts were retouched at the same
time. C19 painted commandment boards either side of the south door. The chancel
south window is a collection of fragments of ancient glass and there is some C18
stained glass in the tracery of the chapel east window. Some C19 stained glass.
Source: Church guide.

Listing NGR: SY1948399578

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