PAYHEMBURY, Devon – St Mary. 

Restoration 1897

The Devon Record Office holds a copy of the full report Fellowes Prynne made for this job.  It is written in the hand of his secretary, but signed by him, though not dated.  After a full description of the church as it was prior to restoration, Fellowes Prynne proposed the following work (in his original words, but bulleted by me for ease).

  • to remove the present ugly gallery at the West end of the Church
  • to form a proper Bell Ringers floor at about the same level as the present floor, but within the Tower
  • to open up the Tower arch entirely
  • to remove the seats at present placed against the screen, thus leaving a clear passage in front of, and opening up to view the entire screen
  • to put Chairs in lieu of the wretched little seats at present under the Tower
  • to remove the present modern boxpews and replace them by carved benches similar to those in the central position of the church.
  • within the Chancel the Clergyman’s seat is simply altered for greater convenience.
  • to restore the step in the sanctuary to its original level, and the parclose screen between Chancel and Chapel to its original position.
  • to take up floor, laying cement concrete all over the surface of ground, and relaying paving in the Nave, Aisle, Tower, and Porch, and putting tiles in the chancel floor.
  • the general repair and repointing of the walls, externally, and replastering internally
  • the repair of all defective stone dressings in Windows, and doorways & arcades etc.
  • the reglazing of windows in Nave & Aisle, re-using what is possible
  • the entire renewal of Nave and Chancel and South Porch roofs, and complete restoration of the Aisle roof, re-using some of the ornamental work where good enough, and raising the chancel roof to its original pitch
  • carefully restore and redecorate the Rood Screen
  • to make externally some alterations in the Boundary Walls, and steps, so as to make them better, stronger and more convenient
  • the Wall of Church and Tower will be repointed

The foregoing gives a general idea of the proposed restoration…but…it will be necessary for me to make very careful inspection of the more hidden parts, during the progress of the works…

His final comment, after listing all the work he proposed, was to say

In conclusion I can only say it will be my aim to keep and restore the old work as far as possible, and only to renew where absolutely necessary, that all the most noticeable, and interesting features may still be retained, which all interested have been accustomed to associate with Peyhembury [sic] Church.

The Builder of 18 September 1897 described the reopening of the church.

This church was reopened by the Bishop of Crediton on the 9th inst,. after an extensive restoration, which included rebuilding south nave wall and general repairs to all walls, and a new roof, except for a few principals on the north side.  The church is covered with Broseley tiles.  The ceiling is oak boarded, with longitudinal and cross ribs, and in the chancel diagonal ribs, with oak bosses at each intersection.  Carved oak angels support the feet of cross ribs in chancel and over rood screen.  The whole of the plastering is new, as well as the floors.  The remains of a niche having been discovered in the north wall, a new one was inserted on the old lines, and an alabaster statue of the Virgin and child placed in it.  The rood screen has also been thoroughly restored, and also the seats.  A new parclose screen, font cover, priests’ stall, and lectern, have been provided, all in carved oak.  The chancel ceiling and the portion of ceiling over rood screen, also screen and niche, have been decorated with gold leaf and colours.  Mr. G. H. Fellowes Prynne was the architect ; Mr. J. Northcote, Ashwater, the carver ; Messrs. Fouracre & Sons, Plymouth, the decorators ;  and Mr. A. Loxton, Spaxton, Somerset, general contractor.

The cost of the restoration was £4,500.

The photographs show some of the details of this church.