Back in the Summer of 2016, seems so long ago now, we had a long weekend in Devon, and managed to visit a few Devon churches. Sorting through 2016’s photos I realised that I never aired them, in fact there are quite a few I forgot to air. So as the weather here in the UK, is inclement for church hunting at the moment, far too cold, although I did manage one yesterday, although it was pouring in rain, the inside was nice and dry. I thought I would try and use up 2016’s lost church photos, before Spring arrives, if it ever does.
This lovely church is St Lawrence in Southleigh, Devon, I remember it well as I saw it out of the corner of my eye, if I had been looking the other way, it would have been missed. The church stands on the slopes of a wooded combe, in a lovely rural location, Devon at it’s finest. There was a long path down to a lynch gate, through the gate, round the corner to the porch, and I must admit, the words in my head, were on a loop going round….it won’t be open, it won’t be open….but on trying the door, it open, fantastic.
With Norman origins, and then some 13th & 15th century work, the local stone and flint rumble building of the parish church of St Lawrence’s was mostly rebuilt in the nineteenth century. The oldest original feature of the exterior of the church is the crenellated west tower, which rises to 40 feet and is all that remains of the Medieval church.
Restored in 1880, it consists of nave, south aisle, vestry and porch. The south entrance is a rebuilt Norman doorway. The church still has features pre-dating the significant restoration project with the font that dates all the way back to the twelfth century and the four bells dating back at the very least to 1553 AD.
The font pre-dates the church and could be from a pervious building on the site or from elsewhere in or near Southleigh. The font has a bowl of Purbeck marble, and the cover has thick wrought-iron fastenings from the time when the law stated that all fonts had to be locked.
Although the interior is 19th century, it does feel and look older, maybe they copied some of the older arches when they added the side south aisle in 1821. The chancel in 1854 and a general restoration of 1881. The tall tower arch is 15th century and part of the tower, with moulded surround and apart from some Norman stone work in a couple of doorway arches the rest is 19th century. Really the crowning glory of this church is its beautiful peaceful and tranquil location. plus there is a service every Sunday……not a lot of churches can admit to that.
The church can boast of a very large brass chandelier which is of special interest, because of its fine workmanship and size. There are only fifteen Anglican churches in Devon where such chandeliers acquired in the period 1650-1850 have been retained. This 18th century brass chandelier was given by a later owner of Wiscombe Park, John Mountstephen How, who died in 1813.