Page images

zeal, and were prepared to dispute the landing on their coast. The French, however, turned northward, and landed in Wales, where they soon surrendered to a force of militia, yeomanry, and volunteers, under Lord Cawdor, supported, it was said, by Welsh women in red cloaks. The vessels of the expedition were taken by Admiral Lord Bridport.

25th April, 1797.—The Defence Committee again met, and tendered the thanks of the county to the North Devon Volunteers “for their zeal in assembling with so much alacrity on the appearance of the enemy off Ilfracombe.”

It appears that the Plymouth Volunteers acted independently of the County Committee.?

For subsequent Defence arrangements vide Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. xi. p. 348, and lecture by A. H. A. Hamilton, Esq., on “Devonshire Volunteers Eighty Years Ago." 1881,





(Read at Plymouth, July, 1892.)

The former paper contained a full description of the fabric of the church, including particulars of the contents of the roodbuttress, and the light they threw upon the position of the rood-loft, as well as of the traces of fresco-painting discovered during the recent church repairs. There was also attempted a history of the building from the twelfth century, and of the general alterations in the arrangements for the services, drawn partly from local knowledge, but partly and principally from the examination and records of other churches, especially of Devonshire.

It is now proposed to give an account of the furniture and fittings of our parish church, including the tower; of the churchyard and its associations, &c.; and to adopt the same general plan as that already followed with respect to the main building, viz., to give a full description, as well as to trace the history-illustrated from various sources of each of the subjects brought under notice, including some, as in the instance of chained books, that have passed into desuetude. We commence with the pews, certainly the most striking and ornamental objects in the church.

PEWS. Originally all parish churches contained fixed seats (sedilia and stalls) in that portion of the building set apart for

1 The abbreviated titles of works quoted are similar to those of the former paper. (D. A. xxiii. 240.)

The writer begs to acknowledge the receipt of much information and assistance from the vicar, the Rev. W. F. Green, as well as from the senior church warden, Mr. J. C. Palmer.

ecclesiastics, viz., the chancel; whereas the rest of the structure, where the general public performed their devotions, was entirely destitute of any, except in some instances where low stone seats were built alongside the walls. Moreover, no parishioner could claim any part of the space as his or her own right, to the exclusion of others. When they knelt, it was either upon the rushes with which the floor was strewn, or upon mats brought for the purpose. In commenting upon one of the decrees of the Synod of Exeter, held under Bishop Quivil in 1287, Mr. A. Heales? remarks: “We find no ground for supposing that any individual appropriation of places in the body of the church existed either legally or illegally, until a very much later date." 3 Nor was it

, apparently, until the fifteenth century that such appropriation commenced. Most probably the circumstance of the members of the same family performing their devotions in one particular place, led to the gradual merging of custom into right, prior to the introduction of fixed seats. apparent exemplification of this is contained in a document, dated 1490, relating the investigation of some asserted rights of this kind by the “kirkgraves,” or church wardens, of Kirkburton Church, Yorkshire, a part of whose decision was, that “John Jakson his wyff and his menze [family) of dutye and ryght ought to knell at ye said fourem lynge in variance next to ye pyllor of ye same, in lykewysse as yare ancestours hath doon without tyme of mynd. And then next unto her & her menze ye wyff of William Morehouse and her menze."

No doubt stools, small moveable seats, and loose benches followed, then moveable pews. (There is an illustration of a moveable pew, preserved in Chelmorton Church, Derbyshire, in volume of Anastatic Drawing Society for 1876, plate 41.) This, with plenty of exceptions, was probably the succession of seats in rural churches like that of East Budleigh, down to the time of the Reformation.5 It is, however, certain that many churches, especially the more important ones, had pews in the previous century; but in the sixteenth “the churches were still frequently only fitted in part with pews,

? The History and Law of Church Seats, or Pews (2 vols., 1872), the principal authority on the subject.

3 1. 75. 4 Journal of Brit. Archæol. Assoc. xxx. (1874) 227. 5 The Rev. J. C. Blomfield remarks, in his account of Bicester Church, “Before the end of the sixteenth century ... wooden seats, at first small moveable stools, and then fixed benches, with backs and ends, some of which were remaining as late as 1862, were placed over the entire area.”Hist. of Bicester (1884), 82.


and ... especially in country places, even so much was not universal till long afterwards."

The leading authority applies the term pew, “as in its earliest use, to any church-seats intended for the accommodation of the congregation," and we accept this definition as the correct one."

The pews of our parish church remain, as a whole, much in the same position and condition as when they were originally fitted, more than 350 years ago, although some of the ends, more especially along the east wall of the nave, have evidently been shifted from other parts of the edifice. They are divided into separate blocks by three separate alleys or passages, one in either aisle, and a central one, much wider, and extending from the tower to the chancel. These are crossed at right angles by two others, one opposite the south door, the other near the east-end of the nave and aisles.

“The early pews," writes Mr. Heales, “were, beyond all question, simply a row of benches with backs; and those which are now commonly termed 'open seats,' are examples of early pews, or copies or imitations of them. They were always substantial, and of good, durable material, such as oak or beech, and capitally joined and fitted.” This, as far as it goes, is an accurate description of those of East Budleigh, and reads at first like an extension of Wordsworth's lines :

" The floor
Of nave and aisle, in unpretending guise,
Was occupied by oaken benches ranged

In seemly rows. 6 A. HEALES, Op. cit. i. 59.

7 The History of Pues was written by the Rev. J. Mason Neale, for the purpose of advocating the use of open benches in the place of “pues," and he employs rather strong language in denunciation of the latter." (3rd edit. 1813, 88.). In it he affirms, that " pues were not in use before the Reformation,” and alludes to the “Puritanick association of Pues.” (Ibid. 4, 98.) It is noteworthy that former editions of Hook's Church Dictionary contain the statement, that "Pews, according to modern use and idea, were not known till long after the Reformation”; but this is omitted in the edition of 1887. The assertion of Mr. Neale is directly negatived by the published parish accounts of Ludlow and of St. Michael's, Cornhill, proving, as they do, that in the fifteenth century pues, sometimes owned by individuals and enclosed by doors -- to which the definition of a pew in modern dictionaries, as “an enclosed seat in a church,” is strictly applicable-were to be found in some parish churches. One example will suffice : "1457. payd for an henge for Russes wyfes pewe

iiijd." (Ch. W. Accounts St. Michael's, Cornhill, 11.) According to Parker (Glossary of Architecture, 1850, art. “Pew")"this mode of fitting the naves of churches was certainly very general for a long time before the Reformation,” but he qualifies it by adding, “it was probably not universal."

8 Op. cit. i. 159.
9 The Excursion, bk. 6.

» 9

All are constructed in a similar manner. The material is wholly of oak, darkened by age, and from 3 to 4 inches thick. The backs are very slightly inclined, and, except on the pew-ends, there is a continuous moulded capping. (Vide plate 7, b.) The book-boards are 5 inches, and the seats 13 inches wide, both fixed perfectly horizontal. The ends of the pews, or bench-ends, as they are sometimes termed, are typical of this county and of Somerset, being square-ended and of the same height as the rest of the woodwork, 2ft. 11}in. above the floor of the pew, which is slightly raised above that of the passages. They vary considerably in breadth. Of the 63 still remaining in situ, 45, or about three-fifths, vary from 16fin. to 17in. The remainder, 18, are much narrower (one being only 6in. wide), are almost entirely confined to the corner seats or front boards, and assist to form the angles at the junction of the passages. On their outer or unattached surfaces, the whole of them are sculptured in relief with devices of various kinds,' contained in each example in a panel, surrounded by a carved border of 2in. to 2 in. broad, representing some variants of stalks and leaves, with but few repetitions of the same design. Of the principal subjects included in the panelling, no two are alike, although there is a close approximation in some of the more formal designs, sufficient to suggest that the same pattern was employed in several instances, but in the execution was varied by the craftsman.

These carvings afford evidence of the date when they were executed, and concurrently of that of the construction of the pews. The number of ends so decorated and in situ is 63; there are in addition five unused (three of them much decayed), and one is known to have been stolen during some church repairs a few years since. The following is a detailed description of every one. For the purposes of identification, and to show the exact position occupied by each at the present date, the rows are lettered from north to south, A-G. Of these, A-F are numbered consecutively from east to west; the first, or A row, being the northern one in the north aisle. The one marked G is in the cross alley at the west end of the nave, the numbers extending from north to south. The width of each pew-end is shown, and also the stamp marks on each carving. (The figures, within brackets, correspond with those, appended to a delineation of each mark, exhibited in plate 6.) It may be noted here, that fourteen of the

1 The only uncarved examples in Devonshire, and belonging to the same period, known to the writer were formerly at Colaton Ralegh. .

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »