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© Mr Ernie W. King C.P.A.G.B.

IoE Number: 85434
Photographer: Mr Ernie W. King C.P.A.G.B.
Date Photographed: 12 July 2001
Date listed: 30 June 1961
Date of last amendment: 30 June 1961
Grade I

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DUNCHIDEOCK BIDDYPARK LANE SX 88 NE 3/16 Church of St Michael - 30.6.61 GV I Parish Church. C13 origins, C15 tower and aisle, remodelling of north chancel chapel in 1669, restorations of the circa 1850s and circa 1870s. Heavitree brecchia, the tower ashlar, the nave and chancel snecked, the north aisle coursed rubble; Beerstone, Bathstone and brecchia dressings; slate roofs. Present plan of west tower, nave, chancel, north aisle of 5 bays, south porch. An account of 1843 refers to a lancet window in the chancel and the C13 plan may have been a small nave and chancel church with tower and north aisle added in the Perpendicular style. There is some doubt about the date of the north aisle, which is similar to the south aisle at Exminster. It may be early C16 although Hoskins suggests it is a remodelling of 1669 by Aaron Baker of Bowhay. An inscription in the north chancel chapel states that "hanc ecclesia partem aedificanti Aaron Baker de Bowhay.... anno salutis nostrum md lxix." A straight joint in the external masonry suggests that there has been some rebuilding of the north chancel chapel, although the design of the rood screen indicates that the arcade piers, at least, are not post-Reformation. In 1846 the building was described "as a picture of desolation" (quoted by Cresswell) and there is evidence of a circa 1850s restoration as well as a thorough restoration of the circa 1870s. The chancel has a circa 1850s 3-light traceried east window with a hoodmould and 2 1-light cinquefoil-headed windows with hoodmoulds on the south side , probably dating from the 1870s, with a co-eval chamfered priest's doorway. There is a large C19 buttress with set-offs at the junction between nave and chancel on the south side; the nave gable is crowned by a foliated C19 stone cross. The south porch, also crowned by a stone foliated cross, is largely C19 with diagonal buttresses, and is approximately central to the nave. To the east of the porch is a 2-light Decorated style circa 1870s window with a hoodmould and carved head label stops, similar 3-light window to the west of the porch. The north aisle, taller than the chancel, has a probably 1850s east window with debased intersecting tracery and a small C19 3-light Perpendicular style C19 west window. The easternmost window of the 4-bay north side has 3 round-headed Beerstone chamfered lights in a square-headed architrave. The next 2 windows to the west are similar in design but brecchia, with stanchions and saddle bars; between the windows is a rectangular rood stair turret with a sloping slate roof. The westernmost window on the north side is a 3-light circa 1870s Decorated window with a hoodmould and carved label stops; the walling around the window has clearly been rebuilt and may have replaced an entrance to the west gallery referred to in 1843 (Davidson). The slim 3-stage battlemented west tower has a battlemented polygonal south east projecting stair turret rising above the height of the tower. The top stage of the turret is rendered. The tower has diagonal buttresses to the west, a single buttress at the north east, no pinnacles and a single string course which rises as a hoodmould over a chamfered rectangular opening at bellringer's stage on the south face. The west face has a shallow-moulded arched granite doorway and a 3- light Perpendicular west window with a hoodmould and replaced mullions. 2-light traceried belfry windows on all 4 faces of the tower. Interior: Plastered walls (except for the tower); chamfered chancel arch dying into the walls, double-chamfered tower arch, the inner arch dying into the walls. 5-bay arcade, the 2 chancel bays are narrower and lower. The arcade has octagonal brecchia monolith piers on square bases, moulded octagonal capitals which seem to be of an early Renaissance character and double-chamfered rounded arches. Unceiled wagon roofs with moulded ribs: there may be some C19 replacement but most of the bosses are medieval and make up an extremely fine set with bold foliage carving and numerous heads. Additional ribs and bosses form a ceilure above the rood screen. The screen (Pevsner 'A' type) with coving and a frieze incorporates a traceried timber casing round one of the aisle piers. The screen was described as "remains" in 1843 and was largely reconstructed by Herbert Read in 1892, with additional work by the Herbert Read firm in 1962. The medieval rood loft stair is intact including (unusually) the door to the stair which is a single plank with studs. The parclose screen is also notable; 4 square-headed bays (including a doorway) with traceried heads and cresting. The chancel fittings are mostly late C19 except for circa 1850s painted texts on tin on the east wall. A good set of probably early C16 and late C19 Herbert Read copy bench ends and benches in the nave. The C16 benches are unusual in being a set with a consistent design: 2 tiers of tracery with foliage variations in the border, 1 has a border of plaited design. Fine octagonal Beerstone font, the bowl decorated with deeply-cut quatrefoils, the stem decorated with tracery, ogival C17 font cover with wooden inlay and a ball finial. 1903 5-sided timber drum pulpit on a wingelass stem by Herbert Read with nodding ogee arches, foliage carving and figures of missionary saints, flanking a figure of Christ. Chancel and chancel chapel windows of the 1870s probably by Beer and Driffield. An interesting collection of monuments including late C17 ledger stones used as nave paving. Large wall monument signed W. Tylor, who also designed the monument to Lawrence in Westminster Abbey, to Major-General Stringer Lawrence, died 1775: a grey marble obelisk with a portrait medallion in white marble, white marble military trophies including a turban and an inscription panel below with an epitaph by Hannah More including "In vain this frail Memorial Friendship rears,/His Dearest Monuments an army's tears/". Major-General Stringer Lawrence commanded the British Army in India and left a legacy of £50,000 to Robert Palk, Governor of Madras in 1763 who later owned Haldon House in the parish (q.v. The Lord Haldon Hotel and Lawrence Castle). In the chancel chapel a wall monument to Aaron Baker, the first English Governor in India, died 1683: Corinthian columns and an entablature with achievements above. An inscription in the chapel states that it was built by Baker in 1669. On the south wall a pair of early C19 wall monuments to the Pitman family of Dunchideock House (q.v.) - white marble tablets crowned with urns on grey obelisks. 1803 painted Royal Arms on south wall of nave. Herbert Read, the ecclesiastical craftsman responsible for much of the restoration of the woodwork in the church, purchased the advowson. An important church for its outstanding woodwork.

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