History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Devon

by Peter Kessler, 16 October 2020

East Devon Part 3: Churches of Brampford Speke, Nether Exe & Upexe

Church of St Peter, Brampford Speke, Devon

The Church of St Peter, Brampford Speke, is on the eastern side of the main road, with the access lane lying about eighty metres south of The Lazy Toad inn. Located on the red sandstone cliff overlooking the River Exe, the majority of the ashlar church building was constructed in the fifteenth century to replace an earlier building which existed by the early 1100s. The tall two-stage tower and its north-west half-octagonal stair turret were added in the same century.

Church of St Peter, Brampford Speke, Devon

The fourteenth century building was largely demolished and rebuilt between 1852-1853 by Butcher. Only the tower was largely left intact. Overall the present building consists of nave, north aisle, south porch, south transept, north-east organ chamber, and vestry. It has a four-light Perpendicular west window, two-light square-headed belfry openings with shallow-chamfered lights, and a small north window. The 1852 rebuild sections offer a fine, balanced composition.

St John the Baptist Chapel, Nether Exe, Devon

St John the Baptist Chapel, Nether Exe, is on the east bank of the River Exe, roughly midway between Fortescue Court to the north of Brampford Speke and Kitt's Lane which leads into Nether Exe itself. The dedication was unknown until Mark Mardon, who maintained the churchyard, stated 'during the restoration (of 1907) the stonework was removed from the blocked-up arch in the south wall and behind this was an indication that the church was dedicated to St John'.

St John the Baptist Chapel, Nether Exe, Devon

It is likely that the original chapel was founded by the De Crewes (Crewys or Cruis) family about 1125. It was mentioned in Domesday Book in 1086. The stone font inside is the only visible remnant of that original Norman church. The earliest written record is dated to 1214 and involves correspondence with Sir Richard de Cruis regarding the chaplain, when the church was connected to St Nicholas Priory in Exeter and was joined to the parish of Brampford Speke (see above).

St John the Baptist Chapel, Nether Exe, Devon

The present simple structure was built in stone in the late fifteenth century to replace the Anglo-Saxon building. The parish is an extremely small one. The building was renovated around 1890. And again in 1907. More recent renovation work on the church was completed in 2008. It consists of chancel and nave with a continuous roof, south porch, and vestry. The church is constructed of volcanic trap rock which has been extracted from the Raddon Quarry near Thorverton.

Upexe Chapel, Upexe, Devon

The former Upexe Chapel stands on the western side of a dead-end lane which leads due north-by-north-east from the centre of this hamlet, reachable from the junction on the west flank of a private house and the neighbouring Pale Farm Tyrkeys establishment. With no dedication it was founded as a chapel-of-ease in 1887-1888, and remained in use until 1936, after which it was converted into workman's cottages. The piscina stood for a time in the staircase of one of them.

Photos on this page kindly contributed by Christian Hacker and Robert Slack, all via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group, and one photo copyright © Derek Harper, and reused under a cc licence. Additional information from The Victorian Church: Architecture and Society, Andrew Saint (Manchester University Press, 1995), and from Some Old Devon Churches, J Stabb (Simpkin et al, 1908-1916).



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