Holy Cross, Cruwys Morchard

Holy Cross, Cruwys Morchard

I’ve a great fondness towards the lovely church at Cruwys Morchard as two of my direct ancestors were Rectors here during the 16th and 17th centuries.

My 11th great Grandfather, the Rev. Alexander MORRICE was Rector here from 1571-1629. As a clergyman in the post Reformation years it would be fascinating to ponder on the religious world in this parish of those days. My 10th great Grandfather, the Rev. William FRANK succeded Alexander as Rector here in 1629 and served here as well as at Poughill until his death in 1661. I’ll be looking at Poughill in a later post.

Despite their Incumbencies being a long time ago there are glimpses into their distant past in this rather remote and rural place.

Cruwys Morchard is a little odd as a place since there is no village. Instead the church aparently once served as the private chapel for the Cruwys family – the church being attended by the family and the various scattered farming families of the parish.

The church itself is a real gem and during my visit I felt as if I’d left the modern world behind to step back in peace and serenity in dear old Devon.

The church isnt huge being comprised of tower (housing 6 bells), nave, chancel and south aisle with south entrance porch. The porch holds a WW1 memorial plaque above the doorway.

War Memorial in porch (2015)

Upon entry through the ancient doorway, the eye is drawn towards the delightful stained glass, the small organ and the incredible rood screen. The rood screen here isnt an original medieval one as one could expect to find in such a remote place; instead the rood screen is a later C17 addition – erected in 1689, a year after the church was damaged by a lightning strike.

The south aisle looking towards chancel (2015)

John Stabb in his “Some Old Devon Churches”, volume 1, says that the lightning strike shattered the steeple and melted the bells. So one can imagine that this damage caused further damage inside the church too.

Cruwys Morchard chancel screen, c1900
C17 Chancel [Rood] Screen (c1900)

When the visitor enters the chancel through the rood screen one is met by a cosy and beautiful (although quite plain) space. The late C17 altar rail surrounds the altar on three sides and the east window of three lancet lights, similar to that at Buckfastleigh, carries some pretty C19 glass.

Altar and east window (2015)

Other than the rood screen I found another notable feature to be the lovely Font cover surmounted by a golden dove. Its clearly quite old; perhaps C18? and although it could do with a little restoration its rustic original quality gave another tangible link to the past.

The golden dove which surmounts the Font cover (2015)

The churchyard at Cruwys Morchard is quite large but appeared to lack any surviving tombs of great antiquity. Instead, perhaps, the most interesting feature of the churchyard is the quite unique lychgate which has a revolving turnstile to allow entry or exit.

The splendid lych gate with central turnstile gate (2015)

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