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Church House, South Tawton, Devon, UK

 

 

 

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Heritage Visits

For individual heritage sightseeing, Church House is open to the public from May to October inclusive -
Sundays: 11 am - 5.00 pm. Entrance free.
Cream Teas.

If you wish to arrange a group Heritage Visit to Church House (Small or Large Groups Welcome), this can be arranged,
with access and a guided tour of St Andrews Church, if required.


There is no charge for the visit or guided tour - we just hope you may want to stay for our delicious cream teas.
(see Premises & Bookings)

Further Enquiries can be made by phone, email or post - see Contacts on menu above

View of St. Andrew's from Church House window

South Tawton village

South Tawton is situated on the northern fringe of the Dartmoor National Park , on a knoll in the valley below Cosdon Beacon. It was recorded in the Domesday Book as one of the wealthiest parishes in Devon .

Historically. the settlement comprised the church of St. Andrew . the associated Church House, various farms. the vicarage and several cottages. The settlement was not situated on any major route, no market was established and there was no local labour-intensive industry. Consequently, the settlement has changed little over the years.

The church and churchyard are elevated above the street level behind a tall granite wall. To the left of the Lychgate is one of the finest church houses in Devon , constructed of ashlar masonry under a thatch roof. Other buildings along the main street either have exposed rubble walls with slate roofs (dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries) or rendered, painted walls with thatched roofs (dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries).

The Parish Church of St. Andrew

The Manor of South Tawton (Tauetona) appears in Domesday Book (1086) as a demesne of the King, and was a portion of the dowry of Githa, the mother of Harold. The church probably originated as a manorial chapel, but the "parochia de Suthaw- thune," called South Tawton to distinguish it from North Tawton, is met with as early as 1199.

The rectory, in the time of Henry I, belonged to the de Tonys, lords of the manor, but later passed to Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who had married the sister and heir of Robert de Tony. On 20th March, 1349, the then Earl, Thomas Beauchamp, one of the founders of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, made a gift of the advowson and rectory to the College of St. George, Windsor, who are still patrons of the living.

St. Andrew's Church South Tawton

The listed, Grade 1 church is entirely of the perpendicular style, though several stages of work (apart from obviously later additions), may be detected in the masonry, and consists of chancel, with north (Wyke) chapel, and south (Burgoyne) chapel (with priest's door- way), nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and an embattled double-buttressed tower (75 feet high) of three stages, with six bells. The fabric is of granite, but the arcades consisting of five arches on each side are of Beer stone, except in the chancel, where both granite and Beer stone are found.

In the south aisle are two piscinae, one just to the west of the chancel screen, indicating that the aisle has been lengthened. This is also shown by the change in the stonework as seen from the exterior. The tower was opened up in 1881 and the north (or devil's) doorway was stopped and the doorway of the rood stair opened. The organ was entirely rebuilt by Henry Jones & Sons in 1887 as a Jubilee gift by a parishioner.

There are carved angels attached to the wall plates at the springing of the braces and a great variety of devices carved on the bosses of the nave, chancel and both aisle roofs. There is a boss carved with the three hares with conjoined ears which are found throughout the world. Another boss, a figure with head foreshortened is thought to be the (Irish) figure known as Sheela-na-gig. There are a number of bosses depicting the 'Jack-in-the-Green' tree worship which lasted into the 15th century. To see all 171 bosses click here.

There is a ring of six bells which, with the exception of the second bell (recast in 1859) were recast in the churchyard by Ambrose Gooding of Plymouth in 1744.

 

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The following are written on a fly-leaf of a church register (1739-1778), doubtless with a view to preserving the recipes for the benefit of posterity :-

A Recipe for killing Ratts One Quart of Oatmeal, four drops of Rhodium, one Grain of Musk, two Nutts of Nux Vomica finely rasp'd, the whole reduced very fine, and to be continued while they eat it.

An infallible cure for the Bite of a Mad Dog Rue, Sage, Wormwood a large handful, three large handfuls of Garlick, bruise them all together in a Mortar, half a pd. of Stone Brimstone pounded, one pound of scrap'd Pewter, two ounces of Assafoetida, one pound of Treacle, boyl the 'Ingredients over a gentle fire in Eight Quarts of Strong Beer till half is consum'd, close stop'd in an earthen vessel.

To a man, half a Qtr. of a Pint 3 mornings immediately after ye Bite if long before ye full moon and same Quantity 3 days before and after the full Moon in ye morning fasting. For Horse or Bullock a Qter. of a Pint. To a Dog 3 spoonfuls.

For visitors who need neither of the above but who would like some sustenance on their visit , light refreshments are available from the refurbished Church House kitchen. For more substantial fare, the Seven Stars Inn is within 100 paces of Church House. Half a mile away in the village of South Zeal there is the village tea shop, the old thatched King's Arms and the historic Oxenham Arms. There also you will find the old gild chapel of St. Mary which appears in the pre-Restoration South Tawton churchwarden's accounts. This was rebuilt in 1713 and is next to the 14th century granite market cross, considered to be one of the finest in Devon.
The Seven Stars Inn