Minster Church of St Andrew, Plymouth

In 2009 St Andrew’s was awarded the status of a Minster Church – representative of her role in the life of Plymouth and Plymothians for at least 800 years.

St Andrew’s has had an interesting and chequered history; notably her destruction in 1941 and her subsequent rebuilding. However beyond living memory there stands an incredible history now consigned to books and newspapers. What follows therefore, in this post, is taken from a newspaper article published the day before St Andrew’s was due to reopen after one of her C19 restorations – a restoration in the hands of the wonderful Sir Gilbert Scott during 1874/75. Although this specific church, or rather her fabric, have been placed beyond living memory I thought it worth sharing the full and informative article. For the first time, in this article, I learned much new relating to this beautiful church in our lovely City. It describes in great detail the church known to my ancestors and countless other Plymothians before WW2.

St Andrew's, exterior, late 19C
St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth, c1870


The church of St Andrew is at once the most ancient building in the town of Plymouth; one of the most thoroughly typical examples, with its long low nave and aisles and wagon roofs, of Devonshire church architecture; and one of the largest parish churches in the kingdom. It has been restored under the direction of an architect who stands in the first rank of his profession. It will be reopened this week with all befitting ceremonial and effect. The highest dignitaries of the Church of England in the diocese, and the leading authorities in the municipality, will take part in the proceedings. Such an occasion demands something more than merely formal preface, or set words of course.

The origin of the parish of St Andrew is lost in antiquity; but well within historical limits it stretched far and wide from the Plym to the Tamar. Charles parish, Stonehouse and St Budeaux were all carved there out; and there are even grounds for thinking that Stoke Damerel was included within its borders. The church is first recorded as the Church of Sutton, the ancient name of Plymouth, but we read of it as St Andrew’s nearly 600 years ago. Whatever may have been the character and position of the hamlet or hamlets which time has developed into the town of Plymouth, one thing is clear – fishing must have formed the earliest source of prosperity of Sutton proper. There was, therefore a peculiar fitness in dedicating to St Andrew, the fisherman, the church which the fishermen of Sutton were accustomed to frequent, and which formed such an important appanage of the great monastic house of Peter (the fisherman) and Paul at Plympton. Plympton Priory had its origin as a Collegiate Church back in Anglo-Saxon times; and even then Sutton was in some sort its dependency. After the Conquest, Warelwast, Bishop of Exeter, nephew of the Conqueror, dissolved the College – it may be of Edgar or Ethelwolf – and founded instead the magnificent Augustinian Priory, which from that date until the dissolution of the monasteries exercised an influence more or less paternal and complete over the fortunes of the infant but growing town. Before the burghers of Plymouth could complete the circle of their municipality in the 15th century, they had to compound with the Prior of Plympton for their rights; and long after the secular authority of the Priory had thus passed away, its ecclesiastical continued.

We have no absolute knowledge of the date when the first church of St Andrew was built. That for 700 years, perhaps 800, the site has been dedicated to the worship of the Almighty seems clear. And the dedication has been continuous and constant. Desecration has befallen the gorgeous chapels of the Carmelites and the Franciscans; and – if we may hold that these orders were likewise represented in the town – of the Dominicans and Cistercians likewise. St Andrew’s, in its beginning older than either, has outlived all. The probability is that the first church was late Norman in character, for architectural remains of that date have been found in the immediate neighbourhood. If so, we may assume that it was small and cruciform, and had to be replaced by a larger edifice before it reached the stage of antiquity. But this is nearly all guess work. We know that there was a church of St Andrew in the 13th century, because it is mentioned in the taxation of Pope Nicholas in 1291. We know that this was not the present church, because no visible part of the fabric dates back to anything near that period. We know that in the crypt of St Andrew’s remains of earlier date, apparently of Early English work have been found. Beyond this all is vague and uncertain.

It is said that in 1377 the population of Plymouth was upwards of 7000; then exceeded by London, York and Bristol alone. It must have been just about that time the good people of Plymouth recognised the necessity of providing better church accommodation. Five hundred years ago, almost to a year, the Plymouth folk were discussing the question of new building St Andrew’s, as this year they are of its restoration. The first idea was evidently that of enlargement; for in 1385 we read that a south aisle was erected, dedicated to the Virgin, and licenced by Bishop Brantyngham. Mr. J. B. Rowe, whose researches in the interesting field of the “Ecclesiastical History of Plymouth” entitle him to the gratitude of all Plymothians, believes that this aisle was an extension of the south aisle – in other words a south chancel aisle; and it is worthy of notice that the south chancel aisle is not only the oldest part of the present edifice, but that the ribs and bosses in its roof are of a richer and more interesting character than those in any other part of the church. If this aisle does date from 1385 it must have been considerably modified, but there is little doubt the lower parts of its walls are of that antiquity. Fifty years later – 1441 – we learn that a north aisle was built, and dedicated to St John the Baptist, and Mr. Rowe believes that this was the north chancel aisle. We take it that the bulk of the church, as we now have it, have been built in the interim; and the fair inference from the special mention of those aisles would seem to be that the church which immediately preceded the present consisted of chancel, nave, and north and south aisles – the north and south chancel aisles and the north and south transepts or chapels, as they are more commonly called – being the additions, though, of course, the old nave and aisles were extended. Every Plymothian is familiar with the fact that the noble tower – with its massive proportions and simple, dignified outline, unexcelled for boldness and effect in the county – St Andrew’s is indebted to a merchant prince of the 15th century, one Thomas Yogge, who, in the words of Leland, built the tower the town finding the “stuff” – somewhere about the year 1460. Yogge likewise built a chapel on the north, which Mr. Worth, in his History, suggests was the present north transept.

St Andrew’s, as it will appear at the reopening tomorrow, will be more like the old church, as it came from the hands of Yogge and his colleagues, than it has been almost from that day to the present. The noble carved oaken screen, which formed a prominent feature in St Andrew’s, as in most of the Devonshire churches of that great local period of church building activity – the 15th century – disappeared long since; the timbers of the roof are no longer open; the rood staircase is a disused relic of the past; – but in all other respects the church is worthy of its best days, if, indeed, these may not be called its best.

It was a very long while ago that the process of degradation commenced. A gallery was erected in the church so far back as 1595, and from time to time others followed suit until the whole interior of the fabric was literally choked. At the beginning of this century pews, galleries, and whitewash reigned supreme within; the churchyard without was enclosed by high blank walls, against some of which houses were built. Neglect and decay were everywhere visible. Early in the century a scheme of restoration was mooted, but dropped without effect. Then plans were drawn by a Mr. Harris to divide the church into two, by building a wall across the nave, after the style adopted in Exeter Cathedral during the Commonwealth. At length, fifty years ago, the work of restoration was entrusted to Mr. Foulston, under whose directions nearly £5000 were expended. In his own designs a slavish copyist of classical models, Mr. Foulston had not the slightest feeling for Gothic art. “He found the church choked up and encumbered, but not mutilated; he left it neat and tidy, but a mere wreck and shadow of its former self”. He cleared out the ancient screen, as well as the galleries; placed new galleries in the transepts with sham granite fronts; erected a new west gallery, cutting off the space beneath to form a lobby; placed close pews for the well-to-do, and bare forms for the poor. The one merit of his work was its substantiality. Yet Mr. Wightwick could write of the church – “the present imposing aspect of its interior is chiefly owing” to Mr. Foulston’s improvements!

St Andrew's, circa 1860
St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth showing Foulston’s interior, c1860

Happily others have thought differently. For forty years St Andrew’s has been in the hands of churchwardens who have done their best not only to maintain but to beautify; commencing with Messrs. F. Bone and A. Hingston; continuing through Mr. C. Bewes, Mr. F. Hicks, Mr. J. W. Matthews; and ending with Mr. Hingston again (who has now served the parish twenty-nine years) and Mr. Radford. Many and judicious were the improvements effected by these gentlemen. Inside the church the windows were filled with stained glass, the monuments renovated, and many other works of sustentation or ornamentation done. Outside, the churchyards were improved, palisading substituted for the dead walls (the alterations of the northern section were the work of the Corporation), and the fabric duly maintained; while on the occasion of the marriage of the Prince of Wales the southern door of the tower, hence the Prince’s Gate, was opened.

But while Foulston’s work remained, only palliatives were possible; and one of the first things on which the present vicar, the Rev. C. T. Wilkinson, set his heart, upon his settlement in Plymouth, was the great work of making the church worthy of the town and of itself. The project gradually developed. Sir Gilbert Scott was called in as architect. Plans were prepared and tenders invited; and eventually a contract was entered into with Mr. Finch, of Plymouth, to do certain works for the sum of £3323. The operations commenced in January 1874. For eight months the congregation continued to worship in one portion of the fabric while the work was being pursued in the other; during the remainder of the time they have met in the Guildhall. Now, under the careful supervision of Mr. Vicars, Sir Gilbert’s representative, the work has been carried to a successful issue. There has been greater delay than was anticipated, but there has been so much more done, and instead of £3323 nearly £5000 have been expended.

The church can now be fairly judged, its great size seen, and its typical beauties properly appreciated. It consists, as our Plymouth readers know, of chancel with chancel aisles, nave with north and south aisles, north and south chapels or transepts, western tower, and north and south porches, the latter not used. The chancel arcades, granite, are of three bays each, and the nave arcades of six; and there are two bays between each transept and its aisle. The chancel arch, though not prominent, is massive. There are arches across each transept. The total length of the church is 184 feet; its width across the aisles 64; and its width across the chapels 94. It is difficult to say whether the best point of view is from beneath the massive groined ceiling of the tower, looking eastward, or from the chancel, looking west. Each is exceedingly effective.

Briefly what has been effected is this. The Foulstonean element has been once and for ever ejected. The galleries are all gone; the noble tower arch is open; and the church presents an unbroken vista from one end to the other. The pews have been cleared out and replaced by low open oak benches, the central passage up the nave, which Foulston blocked, being restored. The dormer windows in the nave roof are closed. These changes have given the church the appearance of being some feet higher, and have thus removed, to a great extent, it’s one defect. It was at first intended that the plastering between the braces of the roofs should be removed; but from the condition of the roofs, and the way in which the timbers have been repaired, it was found that to do this would require a very large outlay. Hence, and it is very much to be regretted, this work could not be done. A new roof, however, has been put on the north chapel, and the gable walls raised; and the south chapel is to be similarly treated. The vaults were all filled in and covered with charcoal. The granite work of the pillars was axed, and the interior dressings generally, cleaned off. In addition to the granite a good deal of the stonework of the windows is if Polyphant, in excellent condition, several of the caps of the shafts being of Beer stone, the great Devonshire rival in the middle ages of the famous Caen. The passages have been re-laid with the old tombstones, but the chancel is tiled. On the exterior the excrescent staircase of the north chapel gallery has been removed, and a new oaken-ceiled and capacious vestry, properly fitted, with strong room attached, built between the south chapel and the south porch, the latter as yet remaining untouched. This new vestry is approached through an ancient doorway in the chapel, to which new jambs have been fitted. The hideous little box with Mr. Foulston stuck onto the south chancel aisle, and called a vestry, will now be removed; the old priest’s door, by which it is now entered, one more become an exterior entrance; while the window in the east end of the chapel will, like those in the west ends of the aisles – the blocking cause removed – be restored to its original length. In the south chapel is the rood loft staircase, now open, and from it there is a small hagioscope or “squint”, which, however, does not command the present altar. Can it have any reference to the former chancel? We proceed to note more in detail the chief particulars of the work accomplished.

The chancel is paved with tiles, encaustic and glazed, from the works of Mr. Godwin, Lugwardine. The prevailing colours are buff and brown, relieved with bands of black and green. Most of the patterns are reproduced from ancient tiles in the Cathedrals of St. Davids, Lichfield and Gloucester, and they were specially selected by Sir Gilbert Scott. The larger bear the words “Gracias Deo”. The tiles were laid by Mr. Godwin’s own men. The communion table is approached from the nave, which is at the original floor level, by five low steps, each formed of choice polished local marble, black and white veins, from the quarries and works of the Messrs. Goad, Plymouth and Oreston.

Gilbert Scott’s beautifully arranged chancel, c1875… all lost in 1941.

There was a reredos presented in 1742 by Mrs. Ilbert, the Palladian character of which was too much even for Mr. Foulston’s defender – Mr. Wightwick. The new reredos is the gift of the Rev. T. A. Bewes, carved by Messrs. Farmer and Brindley, the eminent sculptors, of Westminster, from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott. The material is Beer stone. It may be described as consisting of a centre and two recessed wings. The central compartment contains three square panels. In the middle is the lamb and flag – the Agnus Dei. On the left is the pelican feeding her young with her own blood, emblem of the Church sustaining her members; on the right the phoenix, emblem of the Church’s inherent vitality. In front of these panels the reredos projects to form a shelf. In each wing are a couple of panels with elaborate heads, whereon the Commandments are to be inscribed. The whole of the reredos is beautifully worked, and the running carvings – of vine leaves, and oak leaves and acorns respectively – exceedingly good. The communion table is of oak, very massive, with richly moulded legs. The sanctuary is enclosed in front by a low wrought-iron and brass rail of elegant design, by Messrs. Potter and Son, of London, which firm also supplied the new gates that cut off the tower from the body of the church, so that the ringers may use one without entering the other. The sanctuary will be separated from each aisle by parclose screens of oak, which will occupy the first bay of the arcades.

It was proposed that the chancel should be screened off altogether, but the screen has now been confined to the eastern portion only. The rest of the chancel is occupied by raised seats, arranged longitudinally, for the Mayor, magistrates, and choir – with desks in the immediate front; and to make up, at any rate in ornamentation, for the absence of screens, the backs of these seats are elaborately panelled. The old Corporation stalls have been utilised here, and the seat of the Mayor is indicated by a raised cresting in rear, with the borough arms. The stall ends are bold and handsome. As the chancel will not provide room for the whole of the Corporation authorities, the seats in the front of the nave will also be set aside for them when they attend in state, an appropriation indicated by the carving of the borough arms – the saltire and castles – thereon.

St Andrews, interior, post 1875
Interior of St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth showing Gilbert Scott’s restoration, c1875

The church is now entirely seated with open benches, all of oak, the wainscot of the old pews being worked up, as far as possible, in the backs. The panels in front of the different groups of seats, and the bench ends throughout the entire church are elaborately traceried and carved in reproduction of designs taken from various Devonshire churches of the Late Decorated and Perpendicular periods. The running carving is chiefly of the foliage of the oak and vine, conventually treated. The workmanship of the seating is admirable in every respect, and does the highest credit to Mr. Finch, by whom the whole of the woodwork with its tracery was executed; and to Mr. Hems, who was the carver. The carving includes – on various panels and bench ends – in addition to the ordinary ornamentation, a number of shields bearing coats of arms and monograms. Of public coats there are those of the Sees of Canterbury and Exeter, and of the borough of Plymouth, with sundry St. Andrew’s crosses. The private coats comprise those of the lay rector of St. Andrew’s (Mr. B. J. P. Bastard), the Vicar, the Rev. T. A. Bewes, Dr. Yonge, Mr. Hingston, the Rev. Mr. Holland, the patron of the living; and the Rev. Z. Mudge, J. Gandy, and J. Hatchard, Mr. Wilkinson’s three predecessors in the vicariate, who, between them, held the living 139 years. Of monograms, there are those of the Vicar; Mr. Hingston, and Mr. Radford, the present churchwardens; Mr. Bone, and Mr. W. H. P. White, the respected parish clerk, who has occupied that post thirty-four years. All the seats are to be covered with carpet seating, and provided with hassocks to match.

Though the roofs have not been opened it must not be thought that they have been neglected. The plaster has been whitened, and the ribs and bosses cleaned and repaired. In all the roofs except that of the chancel, the bosses have been treated in vermillion and gold. The chancel roof has been more elaborately dealt with. Here not only the bosses, but the ribs have been gilt and painted in green and vermilion, relieved by black; the wall plate picked out with vermillion; and a number of figures of angels, fixed on small stone corbels, placed at the springing of the ribs. These angels bear alternately labels and shields, are pained in gilt like the ribs and bosses, and have been carved in oak by Mr. Hems. They are modelled after some figures in two churches in the north of Devon; one of them Abbotsham, of which, singularly enough, the Rev. Zachary Mudge was Vicar before he became Vicar of St. Andrew’s. The painting was executed by Messrs. Rendle and Prowse. It would be a great improvement if the wall-plate were continued through the nave.

The handsome pulpit, recently made from the designs of Mr. J. Hine to replace the old three-decker, has been shifted from its place in the chancel to the north pier of the chancel arch. It is, as many of our readers will recollect, a very elegant octagonal structure of Caen stone and local marble, standing on a base of granite, with richly carved and recessed panels in the sides, and having in front a figure of St. Andrew on his cross. On the opposite side of the chancel arch is the new lectern, a magnificent specimen of oak carving, executed by Messrs. Farmer and Brindley, from the designs of Sir Gilbert Scott. The shaft stands on a saltire-shaped pedestal, the angles of which bear the emblems of the four evangelists. The font is also designed by Sir Gilbert. It is in Beer stone, has been carved by Mr. Hems, and is the gift of Mr. Joseph Norrington. It stands on a base of polished black marble, supplied by the Messrs. Goad.

It is hardly possible that a church of the size and importance of St. Andrew’s should have been without ancient stained glass, especially when we remember that some of the finest old stained glass in the Cathedral at Exeter came from Rouen, and was landed at Plymouth on its way to that city. Whatever there was, however, had either disappeared before Mr. Foulston took the fabric in hand, or vanished in the course of his operations. The windows are mostly four-light, but the chancel window is of six lights; and the tower window, the eastern side windows, and the side windows in the south chapel, five light. Up to 1841 the whole remained perfectly plain; but in that year a new east window was put in. It satisfied for a time, but its chief utility was to create a craving for something higher and better; and ten years later it was determined that Plymouth should have, at least, one memorial of the Great Exhibition. The Ascension east window, which has just been removed, and which was one of the prize productions of the World’s Fair, was then purchased, and substituted for that just named, which was removed to the north chancel aisle, where it yet remains. Mr. Wilmshorst was the artist of the Ascension. He also designed the end windows in the two chancel aisles, which were inserted at the same time, and which, unsatisfactory as they are to the educated eye of modern taste, are yet better, because less pretentious than was the chancel window proper, with its wonderful blue glare. The next item of progress was the insertion of the Mudge window to the memory of Admiral Zachary Mudge and his Wife – the central one of the three in the side wall of the south chancel aisle. It contains figures of the four evangelists and various coats of arms of the Mudges and their alliances. It is by Wailes, of Newcastle, and its effect was deemed so satisfactory, that when the cost was counted the churchwardens resolved on entrusting the window on each side to Messrs. Wailes also, and thus completing the aisle. The general design of these windows corresponds with that of the Mudge memorial, and the lights contain the figures of Saints Peter, Andrew, James the Great, Thomas, Philip, Bartholomew, Thaddeus, and Simon. Altogether, therefore, the three windows have twelve figures, which are popularly, but somewhat erroneously, presumed to be the Twelve Apostles. Though thin in colour, these windows display a marked improvement on the gaudy hues of those in the east, and the churchwardens, as time went on and means permitted, placed stained glass in the whole of the remaining windows with a couple of exceptions, filling the tracery for the most part with small scriptural subjects and bordering the lights. The next step in advance was the insertion of the Lockyer window, to the memory of Mr. Edward Lockyer and his Wife, and members of their family. This window is the work of a clergyman, who not only designed and painted it, but fired the glass himself. It is a highly creditable work, and has a far richer appearance than that of the windows already mentioned. The subjects are the Adoration, Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, and the Baptism of Christ. It was originally fixed immediately east of the north porch, but as in the course of the restoration it was seen to be desirable that there should be more light at that particular point, it has by permission been made to change places with the window on the other side of the porch, the latter having moreover been greatly improved by Messrs. Fouracre and Watson, of Stonehouse, by whom the windows were shifted. We now come to the last feature in connection with the windows that calls for notice. It is likewise the most important. The desirability of getting rid of the east window was admitted by nearly everybody. The only interest it possessed was that of marking the progress of the stained glass revival of the last quarter of a century, as a set-off to which it was both ugly and dark, whilst its construction was repugnant to the general architecture character of the church. Whatever difficulty existed, however, was soon solved. Mr. William Derry liberally announced his intention of giving a new window, and Mr. S. Roach offered the granite work required to replace the old plaster on the interior, and the new mullion and tracery. A few weeks since we announced that the new window was in its place, and then we expressed an opinion that, whatever views might be formed at first, because of its marked contrast to the gaudy glare of the east windows of the chancel aisles, it would rapidly grow in favour. Our expectation has been fully realised. The window is by Messrs. Burlison and Grylls, of London, who have devoted special attention to the stained glass of the Perpendicular period. Both in character and in treatment it is quite unlike its predecessor, and it gives double the amount of light. The style is that of the 15th century; the colours rich, but so distributed and relieved by delicate, pearly lights, that the general tone is low. The quality and detail of the new window are excellent, and it bears the closest examination. Indeed, its drawback appears to be that it is not seen to sufficient advantage in the distance. It will be remembered that the central mullion had been removed from the old window. A new mullion has been inserted, so that the window is now six lights, as originally, with a very considerable gain in correct effect. There are three principal groups, each occupying the middle sections of two lights. In the centre is the Resurrection, with on one hand the Raising of Lazarus, and on the other the Raising of the Widow’s Son of Nain. Below the principal group is the Saviour appearing to Mary Magdalene at the Tomb, and on each side of this two angels with labels bearing the texts – “Oh death where is thy sting, oh grave where is thy victory?”, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law”, “For as by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead”, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Under the group of the Resurrection are the words, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. In the head are the four Evangelists, and the Apostles Peter and Paul, James and Jude. Above are a couple of angels; and in the three quatrefoils Alpha and Omega, and the Agnus Dei. There is now only one window in the church to be filled, and that is the window in the tower. The Vicar suggested, when during the process of the restoration the Prince of Wales paid St. Andrew’s a visit, that this window might be made a memorial of that event. The idea was a good one, and there will not, we fancy, be much difficulty in carrying it out. When that is done, but it need not be until then, some of the other windows, particularly the two already referred to in the chancel aisles, would be the better for some improvement.

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Dr. Harry Morton and the church choir, pre1941 : this photograph nicely highlights detail from the 1874/75 restoration, especially the reredos and choir stalls

The organ has undergone as a complete a restoration as the church. It stood originally in the west gallery, immediately in front of the tower arch, and has been moved to the westernmost bay of the north chapel, which it exactly fills. There was some question whether it should not be placed at the end of one of the aisles, but one of the side chapels was fixed upon as a more suitable spot, and the superior size of the north chapel at once indicated it as the more convenient of the two. The organ was originally built in 1737 by James Parsons, who is said to have been connected with the Dockyard, and was opened with great pomp and ceremony, the “singing men from St. Peter’s” – the Cathedral – attending, on the 7th December in that year. It was rebuilt and enlarged in 1859 by Messrs. Gray and Davison at a cost of £700; and further improved in 1870 by Messrs. Speechly, at an outlay of £300. Now it has been entirely rebuilt, and greatly enlarged and improved, by Mr. Rider, of Ball-street, Kensington-square (a Plymouth man by the way), at a further cost of £400. It has been fitted with two hydraulic blowers with separate feeders, and with pneumatic lever action. Six stops have been added to the solo organ – three blown by high pressure wind – tuba mirabilis, harmonic flute (8 feet and 4 feet); and three low pressure – vox humana, gamba and voix celeste. There are four manuals – great, choir, swell and solo. One of the most important additions is the sforzando coupler, which is entirely a new arrangement, and enables the organist to bring on or throw off the full power of the great organ at once. In rebuilding the organ all the pedal pipes have been placed against the wall, and the small ones at the side of the arch. The case is the old one modified, and the arrangement for gas lighting is such that the light only falls on the music and keyboards, while the heated air passes up through the organ, and keeps it ventilated and free from damp. The organ now consists of 52 stops, as follows: –

Great organ, 12 stops – double diapason, wood, 16 feet; open ditto, metal, 8 feet; ditto, ditto; stop ditto, wood, 8 feet; octave, metal, 4 feet; nason, wood, 4 feet; super octave, metal, 2 feet; furniture, metal, various; mixture, ditto, ditto; posaune, metal, 8 feet; clarion, metal, 4 feet; clarabella, wood, 8 feet. All those are of 56 notes, except the last, which is 44.

Swell organ, 11 stops – bourdon, double, wood, 16 feet; open diapason, metal, 8 feet; keraulophon, ditto, (44); stop bass, wood, 8 feet (12); stop diapason, treble clarionet flute, wood, 8 feet (44); octave, metal, 4 feet; super octave, ditto, 2 feet; mixture, metal, 3 ranks; cornopean, metal, 8 feet; oboe, metal, 8 feet; clarion, metal, 4 feet – all of 56 notes, except those marked.

Choir organ, 9 stops – clarabella, wood, 8 feet (12); concert flute, wood, 8 feet (44); gemshorn, metal, 4 feet; flute, wood, 4 feet; piccolo, wood, 2 feet; gamba, metal, 8 feet; clarionet, metal, 8 feet (44).

Solo organ, light wind, 6 stops – all tin and all 8 feet except the second harmonic flute – gamba, voix celeste, vox humana, harmonic flute, do., tuba mirabilis.

Pedal organ, 4 stops – grand open diapason, wood, 16 feet; grand bourdon, wood, 16 feet; principal, metal, 8 feet; grand trombone, wood, 16 feet. Accessory movements – swell pedal, tremulant do., sforzando do., 3 composition pedals to swell, 4 do. to great. Coupler stops – 2 great to pedal, swell to pedal, choir to pedal, solo to pedal, swell to great, choir to great, solo to great.

A few words about the bells. The first we hear of them is that five were cast in 1594. A little over hundred years later – 1709 – Colonel Jory gave the church a new peal of six. Forty years afterwards these were recast into a peal of eight, with additional metal. The tenor weighed 4032lbs, and bore the legend Ego sum vox clamantis parate. In 1839 it was cracked, and in 1840 was recast by Mears, of London; weighing 34lbs less than previously. Last year, through the munificence of Mr. Bates, M.P., the peal of eight was made a peal of ten. The first notice we have of the church clock is of its erection by Thomas Mudge in 1706. There are chimes belonging to it, but they have long been silent. Let us hope that they are to be restored to us with the restored church.

St Andrews, exterior, before 1870
Exterior of St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth, c1870

It is rather a remarkable fact that until the present restoration was taken in hand the church contained no memorial older that the latter part of the 16th century. While the works were in progress however, there were found the remains of a sculptured figure of a female, in Purbeck marble, of 14th century date, which had been turned face downwards, and the reverse used as a slab. It has been carefully preserved, and replaced in the south transept, where it was discovered, and is now, with the exception of a still more mutilated figure, the sole relic of the predecessor of the present fabric. Several of the older mural monuments are of an interesting character, particularly those of the Sparke family in the north chancel aisle, and of the Fowne’s in the south chancel aisle and elsewhere. One of the most imposing is of later date, the monument to Sir John Skelton, Governor of the Citadel in the time of Charles II. Among the later monuments the first place is due to the lifelike bust of Mudge by Chantrey, and the fine memorial to the late vicar.

There is little need that we should enlarge upon the connection of the history of St. Andrew’s with that of the town and the nation. Yet there are a few points that should not be passed over. To St. Andrew’s, Plymouth owes its only association with a Cardinal, Adrian, of St. Chrysogonus, for several years vicar, until he became Bishop of Bath and Wells. It was from St. Andrew’s that the good folks of Plymouth rushed pell-mell one fine Sunday morning, heedless of service or sermon to welcome home their hero Drake from his voyage round the world. In St. Andrew’s George Hughes, the great Puritan leader of the West of England, preached until he was silenced by the Act of Uniformity, and sent to imprisonment in Drake’s Island. In St. Andrew’s was buried the lion heart of “whiskered Blake”; and there it remained in peace when his body was thrown into the pit under Tyburn gallows, with those of Cromwell and Ireton.

Further posts on the history of St Andrew’s will appear in due course.

 © Graham Naylor

[all photos except image of c1860 which belongs to the author are reproduced courtesy of and © to Plymouth City Council Library Services]