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Latitude: 50.8601 / 50°51'36"N
Longitude: -3.8037 / 3°48'13"W
OS Eastings: 273152
OS Northings: 108277
OS Grid: SS731082
Mapcode National: GBR L2.V479
Mapcode Global: FRA 26XT.PZ6
Entry Name: Church of St Thomas of Canterbury
Listing Date: 26 August 1965
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1250085
English Heritage Legacy ID: 432320
Location: Lapford, Mid Devon, Devon, EX17
District: Mid Devon
Civil Parish: Lapford
Built-Up Area: Lapford
Traditional County: Devon
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon
Church of England Parish: Lapford
Church of England Diocese: Exeter
SS 70 NW
4/86 Church of St Thomas of Canterbury
Parish church. Norman origins, rebuilt in C15, north aisle added and nave re-roofed
in late C15. Vestry added 1869 according to Cresswell and chancel is complete
rebuild of same time. South porch rebuilt 1871. Further renovation of 1888 by
Packham, Croote and Stuart included scraping and repointing the masonry, exposing
and repairing the roofs, and some window replacement. 1955 restoration by Lt. Col.
Bertram Shore. Original fabric of mudstone rubble with granite, red sandstone and
volcanic ashlar detail; C19 snecked mudstone masonry and red sandstone, Hamstone and
Bathstone detail; slate roofs with crested ridge tiles on north aisle. Nave with
smaller and narrower chancel, north aisle and vestry, west tower and south porch.
Perpendicular throughout. Tall west tower of 3 stages with diagonal buttresses and
embattled parapet. Semi-octagonal stair turret projecting from south-east corner
with embattled parapet. The 4 bold drip courses are carried round the stair turret
and buttresses and rise as hoodmoulds over doorway and window on west side.
Replaced belfry windows of red sandstone, all 2-lights with trefoil heads and a
quatrefoil in the arched head. West side of tower has C15 doorway, a 2-centred arch
with moulded surround and roll stops, which contains C19 studded plank door with
plain heavy hinges. Tall 3-light window above with restored Perpendicular tracery
and a drip course at sill level is on this side only. Late C19 carved gargoyle
water spout at the top on the north-west corner. South side has an unusual and very
weathered sandstone niche in the lower stage which now contains a C19 statue of St
Thomas a Becket and, in the middle stage, a 2-light window to the ringing loft
similar to the belfry windows but of volcanic stone and original. The stair turret
has tiny slit windows and 1 quatrefoil light. The east face of the tower shows
evidence of an earlier higher roof than present. South side of nave is much
restored. Renewed Bathstone window at left end is square-headed and 2-lights with
cinquefoil heads and hoodmould, and towards right end is a much-restored, arch-
headed window with Perpendicular tracery. C19 porch has Bathstone quoins, kneelers
and coping to gable end, outer flat arch with moulded surround, and lancets either
side. At right (east) end of nave is a volcanic and red standstone offset buttress
which has been reduced in height, possibly C15 work. Gable end of nave is slate
hung above the chancel. Chancel itself is wholly C19. South side has two 2-light
Perpendicular windows with a buttress between them.
East end has diagonal buttresses each side, kneelers and coping to gable which is
surmounted by a fleuree cross and contains large 3-light window with Perpendicular
tracery and moulded hoodmould with large labels carved as bishops heads, and, near
the apex, a trefoil headed ventilator. Set into the bottom of the wall is a plaque
recording the 1955 restoration by Lt. Col. Bertram Shore (Architect), Harry
Partridge (master builder) and Michael Tucker (master mason). North side of chancel
has 2 lancets. East end of north aisle and gable end of vestry have the same
kneelers, coping, cross and ventilator as the chancel. Former contains a 3-light
Perpendicular window and latter a 3-light Decorated window. On east side of vestry
is an arched door containing a plank door with Gothick cover strips and strap hinges
with fleur-de-lis finials and on the north-west corner is a large chimney shaft
supported by an offset buttress. Immediately to the right of the vestry the break
between the C19 rebuild and C15 north aisle can clearly be seen. The north aisle
nevertheless heavily restored 3-window front of tall square-headed 3-light windows
with elliptical heads, sunken spandrels and moulded hoodmoulds. Original granite
heads and renewed mullions. Restored buttresses between and chamfered granite
plinth. West has been restored in the style of C19 rebuild of east end.
Exceptional interior. Tiled floor of porch includes a C17 granite gravestone with a
sunken border and bold lettering rising from it. 'God rest the soul of John
Killan'. C15 south doorway, a granite 2-centred arch with moulded surround and roll
stops. It contains an ancient studded oak door thought by some to be Norman. The
coverstrips are C19 but the massive plain strap hinges, the other iron fittings and
the large oak lock housing are original. Above the south door is a semi-circle of
voussoirs, may be a blocked Norman arch. Nave has very fine late C15 wagon roof,
now open but formerly ceiled. 8 bays, main trusses with moulded ribs and purlins,
large carved bosses, carved vine leaf wall plate and angels bearing heaters stand on
shaped corbels under each main truss. The 2 bays nearest chancel have a ceilure;
the panels are boarded and there are diagonal cross braces, crestwork around the
panels and on the wall plate, the bosses are richer and the whole finished with
paint and gold leaf. ll-bay wagon roof to north aisle is similar but not quite as
grand as the nave roof. Here too the original ceiling has been removed. Chancel
has 4 bay C19 roof with false hammer beam trusses with moulded archbraces and cusped
queen struts above collar. Similar roof to vestry. Moulded chancel arch on
corbels. High tower arch has triple-chamfered arch ring dying into plain sides.
Stair turret projects into south-west corner and includes a granite arch containing
a C15 oak studded plank door. Late C15 4-bay granite arcade to north aisle with
moulded piers (Pevsner's Type A) with moulded capitals to shafts only and wide low
arches. Nave and aisle walls have been stripped of plaster and much restored.
Large crank-headed arch to C19 vestry. C19 tile floors throughout with some
patterned encaustic tiles in chancel. The late C15 8-bay oak rood screen across
both nave and aisle is well-preserved and amongst the finest in the country. It has
Pevsner's B Type Perpendicular tracery over panelled wainscotting with applied
ogival tracery and lower quatrefoils. The ribbed coving over the arches is enriched
with carved Renaissance motifs, and above this the cornice is covered by 4 friezes
of densely carved openwork foliage and delicate cresting. Chancel door has been
rehung and door to former north chapel is missing. Bay to left of chancel door had
mullion removed in C17 to accommodate a reading desk and lintel with lobe decoration
inserted. Rear of screen is less decorated. Contemporary oak 3 bay parclose. East
bay of wainscotting has an applied strip of chip-carved oak with 4 trefoil heads.
4-light square-headed windows with slender Perpendicular tracery and round headed
door. Most of seating is C15 oak benches. 2 distinct types but both are C15.
Earlier benches now to south of nave and north of aisle have moulded surrounds to
bench ends with boldly carved panels, either tracery or rigidly symmetrical plant
motifs. The later C15 benches, mostly in the middle of nave and aisle, include
original rear benches and frontal with collonade of flamboyant Perpendicular applied
tracery and lower quatrefoils. Bench ends have carved foliage frames and similar
tracery to 2-panels. These contain a variety of carved motifs in matching pairs
arranged on heaters, sometimes heraldic achievements, plant symbols, human faces and
some allegoric, such as symbols of the Passion. One features the initials of the
Saint John family who had the manor and advowson from 1430 to circa 1490. Some C19
benches to rear. Other furnishings are all C19. Oak handrail on wrought iron
supports with repoussee vine leaf brackets. Gothic-style Beerstone stem pulpit with
octangonal drum and marble shafts to arcade and dated 1860, the gift of Henry
Kelland. Oak lectern of 1884. Perpendicular Gothic-style Beerstone font. Single
plain marble mural monument to James Wills Patridge (died 1836) on south wall. East
window and south window have stained glass memorial windows, both to Kelland family
and made by Beer and Driffield 1888-9. North windows have attractive late C19
leaded glass in which geometric patterns made up of small panes of coloured
translucent glass and with simple flowers in heads.
Sources. Devon SMR. Devon C19 Church Project. B Cresswell, Notes on Devon
Churches in the Deanery of Chumleigh (1919), pp.96-107.
Listing NGR: SS7315608276
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