Holy Trinity, Buckfastleigh, 1870

On 1 February 1870 the noted antiquary and ecclesiastic, Sir Stephen Glynne (1807-1874) visited Holy Trinity Church at Buckfastleigh. What follows is taken from his account published in Notes and Queries, 5 November 1932.


1 February 1870.

A large church situated on a lofty eminence above the Town; the church consists of Nave with aisles, north and south Transepts, Chancel, South porch, and Western Tower with stone Spire. The Nave and aisles are of great width and the church is generally of a plain and severe character with some features of a local type, but with some earlier work than is usually found in Devonshire.

The arcades of the nave are each of 4 wide pointed arches of octagonal pillars all of granite. The chancel has north and south chapels opening to it by lower pointed arches. The chancel arch is pointed and springs from heavy corbels against the wall. The transeptal chapels open by pointed arches to the aisles both of nave and chancel. There is a small squint from the north transept into the chancel and the door to the rood steps. The nave roof is not coved but open with collar and arched timbers apparently renovated and coloured very dark within.

The whole church was restored about 1840 [actually 1844-1846] and though in good case and with a remarkable solemn interior not up to the mark of the present day. The seats low and uniform but with doors. The pulpit of wood having pretty ogee niches. The tower arch is a tall narrow pointed one but very plain upon imposts.

The windows of the south aisle are square headed and late Perpendicular, of three lights without foliation. In the south transept is a three light of plain arched lights and one similar in the north transept, having an Early English look, but probably late. The east window of the aisles and the west window of the tower are nearly similar. There are some late square headed windows in the north aisle of four lights. The octagonal rood turret is seen on the north at the intersection of the transept.

The north and south aisles of the chancel seem to be additions to the original plan encroaching on the Early English work which appears in the single lancets north and south of the chancel. The chancel has three sedilia undivided merely with separate canopies of plain character pretty clearly Early English. There is a plain double piscina and in the north wall a pointed recess. There are small flat arched piscinae in both north and south chapels of the chancel. The roof of the chancel is of cradle form with foliaged bosses and ribs.

The Font is Norman, the bowl cup shaped, on a stem set upon a high base, and surrounded by four mutilated shafts of marble with Norman capitals. On the bowl is a kind of scroll pattern and round the top a course of rope ornament. There is on the north side of the nave what appears to be a modern addition. The roofs are covered with slates.

The south chancel aisle is embattled. The porch is very large. The tower is of the coarse character prevalent around, is tall and has battlement with corbel table under it, shallow buttresses not at the angles and an octagonal stair turret in the centre of the north side dividing the belfry windows. There is a west window and plain pointed doorway. The spire stands within the tower and is octagonal without ribs. The walls of much of the church are covered with plaster.

The churchyard is spacious and the view seen from it has much beauty and picturesque effect, with rock and wood. Near the east of the churchyard are ruins of what was evidently a chapel, but not on a large scale, having only single light windows.