English Churches - South West
A large and splendid church, reflecting the importance of Bideford
tower of St Mary’s Church dominates the view of Bideford seen across
the River Torridge. This is the third church to be built on this
site. Nothing is left of
the original cob and wattle Saxon Church which was replaced by a stone
church in the C13th. By the C19th this was in a very poor state of
repair and was demolished apart from the tower and a new nave and
chancel were built.
It is a very large church, reflecting the wealth and importance of Bideford at the time.
The inside is equally as impressive with arcades of pillars with pointed arches separating the nave and side aisles and hung with brightly coloured banners. Embroidered kneelers are propped up on the pew benches adding more colour.
The oak screen at the bottom of the tower was made from old pew ends.
The chancel has a simple altar with embroidered front piece and wooden reredos.
The brightly coloured C19th east window depicts the Crucifixion.
Between the chancel and the south aisle is the tomb chest of Sir Thomas Grenville who died in 1513.
The south aisle has a small altar at the east end.
The back of the south wall is covered with memorial slabs.
All Saints’ Chapel in the north aisle was the area reserved for the mayor and corporation. It is separated from the nave by a glass screen with engravings including the baptism of Jesus, St Anne, and a local fisherman. Now reached from the north door, this has a simple stone altar and the Memorial Book.
In front of the glass screen is the Norman font, dating from 1080.
Near it is the pulpit carved from Devon marble in 1894.
This is a very attractive church. The church is kept locked apart from services. It is open on Monday mornings when the 'Holy dusters' clean the church or about 10am on a Friday when it is open to prepare food for The Friday Diner at 12o'clock. There is no parking by the church. The post code is EX39 2BP and the grid reference is SS 454264.
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