ANWHC

History

St. Mary's Church Appledore
The site of St Mary's is believed to have been used for Christian worship since the earliest of times, and certainly during the Middle Ages a chapel dedicated to St Anne (thought to be the mother of Mary, Our Lord's mother) stood on the land in front of the present Church: this area is still known as Chapel Fields.

In 1834 the Rev Thomas Mill of Northam wrote to the Bishop of Exeter asking for permission to build a new Church in Appledore. It was to seat 600 people, and on Thursday 23 June 1836, the foundation stone was laid. On 25 September it was consecrated, this being three months after the coronation of Queen Victoria.

£1,804-12s-2d was collected towards the cost of the building and this, in addition to some grants and the sale of materials from the old chapel, paid for the work. There was £3-0s-2d left when everything had been completed!

The first parish priest at Appledore was the Rev Edward Reynolds. He died in 1896 aged 78 years, his grave being at the top of the churchyard.

Originally the Church did not look quite as it does today. In 1899 a centre aisle was added to the two side aisles and the choir stalls put at the east end. A new floor was laid, the Church decorated and a small vestry built at the back. At the dedication of these alterations, the bishop reminded the congregation that "they must help the Vicar in his work, because clergymen needed brightening at times"!

The next vicar was the Rev George Scholey. He was remembered as being an excellent preacher and it was often necessary to be at the Church half an hour before even prayer in order to get a seat!

In 1909 the Church was again altered. The gallery was removed and the west end enlarged. The tower was also built at this time from stone quarried from Cornborough (along the Abbotsham Cliffs) and houses a ring of 8 bells.

The bells were given in 1911 by W J Tatem, later Lord Glanely, in memory of his father, Thomas Tatem, and his son, Thomas Shandon Tatem, and were cast by J Warner of Spitalfields, at a cost of £485-15s-0d. The tenor bell was inscribed "1911 / George Scholey - Vicar / W A Valentine G H Cork - Churchwardens / Cast by John Warner & Sons, London 1911" and weighed 10 cwts 26 lbs. Records show that in the 1920s an enthusiastic team of ringers was formed including a Ladies team! Nearly unheard of in those days! The bells were recast and rehung in 1962 by Taylor's of Loughborough at a cost of £1297, and are still rung regularly by our own band of ringers.

The new tower contains a clock which had previously belonged to the United Services College at Westward Ho! where Rudyard Kipling, author of "The Jungle Book" among other works, had received part of his education. The clock itself is a well constructed machine and a good example of the flat-bed form of tower clock design, and was made by Gillett & Bland. The escapement of the clock is a good example of the famous double three-legged gravity escapement which had not long before been invented for use in the great clock in the tower of the Houses of Parliament and is well-known for accurate time-keeping.

It had been planned to build a vestry at the south-east corner of the Church, but for some reason this was not carried out. Instead, a coke-burning boiler with 1430 feet of wrought iron pipes was installed in 1915. The heating system was converted to gas in the 1990s.

Over the years, various alterations have occurred: such as the removal of some pews at the front of the Church and behind the choir stalls, enabling the Chapel of St Anne to be created un the the Lundy Window in the south-east corner of the Church sometime in the 1980s. From 1996 to 2003 there was a programme of Restoration for St Mary's. There was a tremendous response to the Restoration Appeal in that time: as with all such work, extra problems came to light only after a project had been started, but all has practically been completed with the building of a much needed lavatory a few yards from the North door of the Church.

Since the Church was first built, the churchyard has gradually filled - unfortunately by many who were drowned crossing the Bar in the old sailing ships that Appledore was famous for both building and manning. So the churchyard has gradually been extended onto land kept specifically for that purpose - being used as allotments until required.


Holy Trinity Church Westward Ho!
In 1863 Northam Burrows (North Devon) Hotel and Villa Building Company Limited was formed with the object of founding a fashionable watering place to rival Ilfracombe and Torquay.

Following the Napoleonic and Crimean wars, many retired and half-pay naval and army officers were attracted by the inexpensive property prices and the proximity of the North Devon Golf Club.

The Reverend Isaac Gossett, who had been at St Margaret’s since 1844, saw the need for a church at Westward Ho! So with the necessary ecclesiastical permission, he commissioned a Mr W Oliver of Barnstaple to draw up some plans. The site was donated by The Northam Burrows (North Devon) Hotel and Villa Building Company Limited and the work began in 1868.

On 24th March 1870, the church was opened but not consecrated as it was still in debt. In 1938 the church was finally consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter, Dr Charles Curzon. In his address the Bishop said that special significance was added to the occasion because it was probably the first consecration of a church in the district for about 100 years.

The basic structure of the church has hardly been altered since its completion. The external dressings around the windows and doors are of Lundy granite, and the facing of the external walls is of the brownish stone from the Kenwith Valley quarries and was the gift of the Revd. Edward Dansey, the Rector of Abbotsham.

In 1996 the church became formally part of the Torridge Estuary Team Ministry and also a ‘District Church’.

The church, having no fixed pews is very adaptable and stages concerts throughout the year and these have proved extremely popular. Its beach is a wonderful place to surf and kite surf. Lifeguards patrol in the summer.

St. Margaret's Church Northam
St Margaret’s has been on its present site for at least seven centuries and an earlier church on this same place since Norman times, although the only evidence that can be seen is the capital of the column nearest the back of the church.

To the left of the main door there is a list of incumbents dating from 1261 when Martin de Littlebiri was installed. The first entry in the registers, however, is a baptism in 1538.

The dedication of the church to St Margaret has a bit of mystery surrounding it. In the 19th century and earlier it was generally accepted that the dedication was to the Blesses Virgin Mary but in 1917 the then vicar, the Revd. GG Payne Cook, who had obviously found a contradiction, wrote to the Diocese in Exeter to clarify the issue.

The reply from Exeter was ‘In Episcopal Registry in Liber Regis (Henry VIII) St Margaret is the patron saint of the church - the patron loci.

The North Aisle was added in 1593 and this date can be seen recorded on a pillar nearest to the Chancel steps. The Chancel Aisle was added in 1623.

The Nave Roof is mostly 14th and 15th century. The bosses of varied design are carved from sweet chestnut and those representing the Passion also give evidence that there was once a Rood Screen.

Between 1846 and 1860, the vicar, Revd Isaac H Gosset paid for much of the restoration of the church. When the Reverend arrived in 1844 the church was in a deplorable state inside and out. During the restoration two galleries and some pews were removed and the church regained much of its former beauty.

The present eight bells were rehung in 1920 by Taylors of Loughborough, having originally been cast as five bells in 1553, and recast into six bells in 1770 by Thomas Bilbie of Cullompton.

Church bells have been a familiar sound in England since the 5th century. In an age before clocks they divided the day, sounding calls to prayer and the curfew.  
In Northam we know that the bells have been ringing since before 1553 – four bells to begin with, increasing to six in the 1770s and eight in 1920.  

The 1920 dedication of the bells by the Dean of Windsor was planned to be a grand affair, with tea and sports on the vicarage meadow. Unfortunately rain put a stop to the sports – we do not know what happened to the tea!  

The treble is dedicated to E Stella Temple, a nurse who gave her life in the 1st World War. The dedication of the 5th gives a hint of the religious turmoil of the reformation – it refers to Revd Joshua Bawden as vicar of St Mary’s Northam. He was the incumbent from 1741-1788. It is believed that the original dedication of the Church was to the Virgin Mary & St Margaret. During the time of the reformation many references to St Mary were dropped, but local people may have continued to refer to Northam Church in the old way rather than the alternative dedication which is now in use.  

A ringer still remembered by older parishioners was Sid Kelly, who started to ring sometime in the 1920s. In February 1975 a tale about him made the local paper. It seems that for some time the bell ringers had been trying to persuade Sid to open a padlocked box which had stood for many years in the ringing chamber. Sid asserted that the box contained a set of hand bells, but unfortunately the key, which had been handed down to him by his father-in-law, had been lost. The ringers always teased Sid that he actually kept his money in the box! Eventually the key was found, after a long search of the Kelly home in Cross Street, and the box was opened. Inside there were indeed 16 hand bells, in a very poor state and not ringable, wrapped in a copy of the Bideford Weekly Gazette dated 13 December 1881. It is believed that this was about the time they were purchased. What happened to these hand bells is not recorded.  

Sadly our tower bells have been almost silent for some time, just rung occasionally by visiting bands who say that they are perfectly ringable. The sound of the bells calling people to church on Sunday is missed by many people – is there anyone out there who would like to take on the task of getting the bells of Northam ringing again?   With thanks to the Bideford Community Archive pdf for their help in preparing this article.    

Northam Parish Church
A guide to its History
By David. W. Gale St Margaret's Church. Northam
Northam is a large Parish, but was much larger, incorporating Appledore and what is now Westward Ho!, Appledore's church of St. Mary being consecrated in 1838, and Westward Ho!, Holy Trinity in 1870. Because it was a large parish the church had to grow with the inevitable population growth, having major extensions in 1593 and 1613.

St. Margaret's has been on its present site for at least seven centuries, the first written record of its benefice being in 1261-2 when Martin de Utlebiri was the Rector, and its patron was the Prior of Frampton in Dorset. There is a tradition that a church which predates our present one stood on what was known as the sanctuaries which were situated on the north side of Bay View Road.

When Bay View Terrace was built in 1865-6, the road was known as Sentry Road, a contraction of Sanctuary, and Century Drive was built in a field called Big Century, the next field to the west being Little Century. Some older inhabitants told the Rev. Isaac H. Gosset, when he came to Northam to take over the incumbency in 1844, that they remembered seeing the ruins of this old church.

Traditions in local communities, passed down the generations by word of mouth usually have their basis in fact, so should not be lightly dismissed. Another tradition which has no written confirmation is that part of the Burrows was enclosed to raise funds for the building of the church. This is probably based on fact., and is perfectly feasible.

The dedication of the church to St. Margaret has a bit of a mystery surrounding it, and may involve tradition again. During the last century, and probably before, it was accepted that the dedication was to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but in 1917 the then vicar, the Rev. &. &. Payne Cook,, who had obviously found a contradiction, wrote to the Diocesan Headquarters in Exeter to clarify the issue. The reply from Exeter set the written record straight..." In Episcopal Registry in Liber Regis (Henry VIII) St. Margaret was the patron saint of the church - the patron loci - though probably the B(lessed) V(irgin) M(ary) was also invoked - and perhaps other saints as well, as in several cases that have come under my notice. St. Martins church in Exeter Cathedral Close for instance was dedicated on July 6th 1065...'to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Cross, and St .Mary mother of Christ, and St. Martin Bishop, and all saints.' ...sometimes dedications were altered at the Reformation period, and the name of the 8.V.M. suppressed." Another example of a dedication being associated with the Virgin Mary was Frithlestock Priory, whose main dedication was to Saint Gregory Bishop, though at times the Blessed Virgin Mary was mentioned, and once the association was with St. Edmund the Confessor.

So, was the original dedication of Northam Parish Church to Saint Mary, only to be suppressed during the Reformation as the letter suggests? If so, an alternative saint, in this case Saint Margaret, would have been brought to the fore, and all written records would suggest the new patron saint; but because of jealously held traditions, the church would be known locally as St. Marys!


Northam had a religious guild, a Fraternity, founded in the 15th century, which honoured two saints, John the Baptist and George the Martyr, having their chapel of St. John in the church. This guild, in common with other religious guilds, raised money by quarterly contributions from their members, and by donations of property, or rents from land and property.

Their first benefactor was John Cole, who in 1423 ("...in the yere of the reigne of Henry the syxth the seconde...") gave all his lands and tenements at Underborough to the guild; he then donated his houses and lanes in Colehill and Willamore, and lastly the rents from houses in Northam amounting to 3s 4d per annum. To administer these assets Feoffees were elected, eight being named in the deed of 1423. Most of the deeds concerning these properties, including enfeoffment deeds, are preserved in the North Devon Record Office at Barnstaple. One such Deed of Grant dated 1468, from John Gambon to John Clyff, vicar of Northam, and the Feoffees states that the income from the premises concerned in the Deed, was to be used for building the church; presumably this was for extending rather than the initial building of the church.

Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, and his son, Edward VI, proceeded to dissolve the guilds, colleges and Chantries on the grounds that their funds were put to superstitious uses, though Northam's guild seems to have continued to administer its assets for the good of the Parish, even though in name it did not exist.

One reason it was able to survive was the purposes and uses of the properties under the control of the Feoffees were well understood, so there was no need for these to be explained on the majority of the deeds; but in 1565 an inquisition was called, during which the Feoffees had to account for the uses of the rents. During this inquisition, dated 8th August 1565, properties were stated to have been "..granted and confirmed to Thomas Vallett and Philipp Braunton wardyns of the store and light of the fraternytie of seynt John the Baptist and George the Martir of Northam..." The lands were confiscated and passed to Thomas Collemore as a reward for his informing on the guild.

For some, as yet unknown, reason these lands, valued at 116s 3d a year, reverted to the Queen soon after. Perhaps Thomas, who must have been local, had incurred the wrath of the villagers, so much so through his informing on them, that it made it impossible for him to administer his newly acquired property, and he was forced to exchange this for another reward.

Thomas Leigh of Northam bought these confiscated premises, and through a series of fourteen deeds dated from 1578 to 1582 held in the North Devon Record Office, we see that he granted the annuities, or rents, from these premises to the Feoffees to administer for the good of the parish.
Before the Reformation the guild probably managed the parish affairs, but when this was swept away a new method had to be devised; and so we find in the Churchwardens' account book of 1567-1719, that on December 1st 1576, 24 men were chosen for this job, the
entry reading:
"Here followeth the names of the 24 men chosen nominated and appointed the first of Decembr in the yeare of our Lord God 1576 by the consent & agremt of the Pishoners of Northam for appointinge ordering and disposing of all things and matters whatsoever concerning or in anywise appertaining to or for the church matters there and the general behoof use and commoditye of the whole Pishe. William Leighe, Ffrancis Yeo, John Byshoppe, John Willett, William Clowe, John Upcott, John Dothacotte, William Blackmore, William Chaple, William Vallett, Thoms Leigh, John Braunton,
Peter Boroughe, Thoms Whiston, John Tracye, Willm Wolridge, John Blackmore, Peter Collemore, John Whipton, Mark Dothecote, Willm Heard, John Titherleighe, Richard Bennett, William Bennett."

The church today consists of a Nave and Chancel with a North Aisle to each; a South Transept, South Porch, Vestry and an embattled West Tower with pinnacles, containing eight bells and a clock with three faces.

The Tower used to be plastered and whitewashed, as were all the walls of the church, (Lynton church still has plastered walls) and was in this state until the middle of the last century. Being 96ft high to the top of the battlements, and painted white, it was an aid to the incoming boats, especially before the advent of lighthouses; and as such probably saved many sailors from being shipwrecked on our treacherous coastline.

In a letter dated 1859 to William Ley of Instow, George Oliver says that his friend and co-editor of Westcote's" View Of Devonshire", Pitman Jones, used to joke and “...mention that when he went to see (the church), they were whitewashing one of the 4 sides of the Tower, and said to him ’we be poor here: we never does more in the year: and so you see in 4 years all be done: and then we begins again"'.

Throughout the Churchwardens' accounts mention is made of buying lime for this whitewashing of the walls, (e.g. 1770, 6 Bushlls of Lyme, 6/=) and most years during the early 1800's Richard Burch was paid £l-10-0d for 'whitewashing the tower’.

 The steps to the tower are contained in a semi- octagonal projection on its south side. Tedrake, in his “Guide to Bideford and North Devon", 1895, says of the tower, “...'the tall, gray wind-swept tower', as Kingsley has happily described it - is well worth ascending. It is some 90 feet high, and stands on the side of a hill, which slopes down to the sea. You ascend by way of a narrow, winding staircase, each step of which has been worn by centuries of footsteps, and your way is lit by occasional apertures in the tower wall. Most of the staircase is as black as night, and the stranger needs to take heed to his footsteps. Horrible stories are told in Devonshire of men who, in going up towers, have missed their footing, and have rolled over and over, tumbling headlong 60 or 70 feet - never stopping, never able to stop - until they have reached the floor of the church, mangled and dead. You never think of these stories except when you are going up the tower, and then you can't get them out of your mind. But though the way be long and dreary, the reward is reached at last. A small door is opened by your guide, and you step into the full light of day. Scores of starlings fly in ama2ement from the battlements, and you are left in undisturbed possession of the roof of the tower. The view from the summit of Northam tower is unique."

The present eight bells were rehung in 1920 by Taylors of Loughborough, having originally been cast as five bells in 1553, and recast into six bells in 1770 by Thomas Bilbie of Cullompton.
The inscriptions on the present bells are:-
1) "To the glory and praise of God and in memory of E. Stella Temple 1919 - G. Payne Cook - vicar."
2) "In memory of George Brayley Brayley Wellesbourne Northam 1915 - G. Payne Cook - vicar."
3) “God save the King and prosper the Parish of Northam - Recast 1920 - G. Payne Cook - vicar."
4) "Peace and increase of trade to Appledore."
5) “The Reverend Joshua Bawden vicar of St. Mary's ch. Northern."
6) “Churchwardens-. Mr. Thomas Chappell & Mr. John Shaxson."
7) “Thomas Bilbie Cullumpton Fecit - Five Bells cast in Six 1770."
8) “In tuneful peals your joys I'll tell your griefs I'll publish in a knell - Thomas Bilbie fecit 1770."

Throughout the Churchwardens' accounts, the casting, recasting and hanging of the bells is recorded; a few examples will give a flavour of what can be found in this treasury of local history:-
1562 “casting of our two bells."
1590 "£5 for recasting a bell, & a clapper bought."
1592 John Harris received 12 pence for a days work on the bells, and John Hopper 10 pence “to attend him".
1578 Bell metal was sold
1584 .. .. .. ..
1590 .. .. .. ..
1745 The peal had grown to 5.
1770 “..to Jno Yeo for timber in the Bell chamber 7/-

Ale was brewed and sold for a profit under the auspices of the church as had been done for centuries, and on certain occasions such as “Church Ales" "Brides Ales" and the most popular “Whitson Ales" merriment among the villagers, and funds for the church were the order of the day. Drunkenness was rife, as one would imagine, so much so that the Devon Justices of the Peace made an order in 1607, that no more Church Ales or similar carousels under the church auspices were to be held in that county. Doubtless any ale needed for refreshment of the ringers etc., after this order was made, would have been found in a nearby ale-house. No difficulty would have been met with in finding one in Northam, especially in the eighteenth century, as there were 60 licenses issued to the parish in 1751, (This of course included Appledore). So we find in the Churchwardens' accounts various amounts for ale bought in for the bellringers and workers on the church. e.g:-
1715 6/-6d spent on beear on Easter Monday
1717 l/-6d worth of beear for the ringers on the anniversary of George the First’s accession to the Throne.
1727 Oct. 11 “To meat A drink for ye ringers on the Kings crownation day...14/-7d “
1730 “for drink to ye mason when ye church roof blew away...l/-"
1770 "to ale about the bells...1/-"
1814 “Gregory Tuplin for ringers ale...12/-''
1832 "Jno Sanders - ringers ale..14/-"

Many interesting entries can be found in these Churchwardens' Accounts, and a full study of these could produce a potted history of the village. A few interesting, related entries are:-
1586 12 pence for the ringers on the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession.
1715 6/- for the ringers on August 1st - George the First's accession anniversary.
1715 Nov. 5th 16/- for the ringers.
1715 To Mary Cornish for 3 pieces of Roop for ye bells A clock...5/-6d
1715 May 29th 4/-6d for the ringers
1715 To ye chaimers for ye year 6/-8d
1715 Mary Eavens for washing ye Cirples & cleaning ye plate..ll/-
1715 To putting up ye pinnacle of the tower £2.
1715 To Ephraim Dyer for keeping ye clock.,8/-.
1717 To ye chaimers for ye year 6/-Sd
1717 20th October ... ringers 2/-6d
1717 For Creast to putt upon ye church A carridg 2/-ld
1723 For masons work to cover the church and walls ... 15/-10d
1730 For 5 thousand of hoalm stones at 7/- tho: €1-15-0
1730 For ye carridge of the stones from boathide to Northam 8/-4d
1814 To the ringers at News of peace with America...6/-

The two entries of 1730 probably refer to the erection of the gallery in the Nave. This gallery projected from the west wall of the Nave, nearly reaching the South Porch. The Deed for the building of this gallery states that it was "...for the use of the parrishioners to stand sit kneel and hear Divine Service and sermons only, and not for ye use of any new and unaccustomed way of singing whatsoever or to serve for a singing gallery." The Rev. I. H. Gosset described this gallery as he found it over 100 years later; "The back seats under this gallery were raised like a flight of steps, as they were also against the west end of the North Aisle so that the floor of the highest seat must have been fully five feet above the level of the church floor..,The gallery was lighted by two dormer windows in the South Roof, and by one in the North Roof of the Nave, to form which windows some of the fine roof timbers had been cut away."

There was another smaller gallery in the South Transept, called the Old Men's Gallery, which was approached from the outside by a flight of steps on to the (then) raised ground against the Transept east wall, and then by more steps to a door on the level of the gallery floor, under which was to be found the old vestry.
The North Aisle was built in 1593, as is apparent to everyone who visits the church, by the inscription on the cap of a Nave Pier.
 
A note in the Parish Register of this year, between Sept. 15th & 16th records, "This Sommer in the year of our Lord 1593 was the North part of the church of Northam begun to be buylded and at this time the work ended and , thoroughly finished." The date 27th February has been entered after “at this time". Before this North Aisle was built there was a North Transept, the ceiling of which could still be seen in the middle of the last century.

Until the Reformation ail churches had a Rood Screen in or near the Chancel arch, separating the Nave from the Chancel. This screen took its name from the Rood, or Crucifix, which was usually carved in wood and located on the top; candles placed next to the Rood were reached by a spiral staircase, usually located in the wall on the north side of the screen.

Northam church was no exception in having one of these finely decorated, wooden screens; but in common with many others, it disappeared, probably during the puritanical Commonwealth period; the doorway to the staircase being plastered over during the Rev. Gosset's restoration. The large Piscina on the south side of the Altar was also plastered over at this time.

Originally churches did not have pews, the congregation having to stand or knee!; but there were stone benches along the side walls for the sick or elderly, which gave rise to the expression, “The weakest to the wall." Pews as we know them began to be installed in the 14th century, but all the ones in Northam church date from the 19th century. When the Rev. Gosset came here, the only really old pews to be found were in the South Transept, the older ones in the Nave having been disposed of within the living memory of the inhabitants of 1844 Northam. The pews Gosset did find in the Nave were, “made of Red Deal, very high, uncomfortable with narrow seats between which it was impossible to kneel and difficult to sit".

According to the Churchwardens' accounts pews were made in 1565,1582,1595 (to furnish the new North Aisle) and in 16G3, with 8/-6d being paid for seating in 1712.

The plan for the reseating of the "Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin" Northam dated 25th June 1864 shows a total seating of 666, the reputed Devil's number!

Of the more ancient furnishings of the church, the wooden Communion table is still in existence, though reduced in size and relegated to the vestry.

The Font has an octagonal basin of probably early Perpendicular date (1348-1534), and was found in 1846 buried under the floor of the Tower,
It had been broken into two pieces, possibly smashed by the Parliamentary troops during the Civil War, whilst they were reeking havoc in the churches throughout North Devon on a puritan impulse.

The modern Pulpit, a gift of F. T. Thorold Esq., in memory of his mother, is made of stone in the Decorated style, delicately carved, with Devon marble shafts.

This stone pulpit replaced a wooden three-decker one of Jacobean date or earlier. Gosset decided on his arrival, that this old wooden Pulpit "harmonised badly" with the overall design of the church, so he sold it to Archbishop Benson, headmaster of Wellington College, who then proceeded to convert it into a sideboard! Mrs. Gertrude Payne Cook, whose husband was vicar of Northam from 1917-1932 set out to discover whether or not this sideboard was still in existance; but not until 1940 did she have any luck. E. F. Benson, son of Archbishop Benson, had recently died, and the sideboard was stored in an empty garage. The panels still had faint colouring showing a design of marguerites around a saint.

With excitement, Mrs. Payne Cook Secured the sideboard and had it transported to Exeter, where, through the skill of Mr. Herbert Read, it was converted back into a pulpit, and a new base made for it. All this work was for nought though, as the Blitz of Exeter destroyed all but one pane! of it, which is now in Plymouth.

Two Gurney stoves were installed in the two aisles during the last century, this being the only form of heating at the time. The Sexton had the duty of lighting these, and was paid eight pence for each stove lit; but he had to provide the necessary wood and shavings to light them with. Today's heating system is a little less "Heath Robinson".

The Organ, one of the finest instruments in the district, was built in 1866 by J. M. Walker of London at a cost of £564-16-0, chiefly through the donation of N. Shaw Esq. Additions, including a carved end to the case cost £75 in 1883, The Organ case was designed by Mr. Cross of Exeter, and the illuminated front pipes by the Rev. Charles Boutell (author of ENGLISH HERALDRY) and his daughter, who were also responsible for the angel shield designs at the foot of the Nave roof trusses. Renovations were carried out by Mr. Percy Daniel in 1932, and in 1969 it was completely restored and cleaned at a cost of about £1,000.

The Move and South Transept roofs are of Early Perpendicular Style and are open-timbered and exceptionally fine; the wood being of oak and sweet chestnut. The Bosses are of floral and emblematical designs, some being emblems of the Passion, more proof that there was a Rood Screen. The wall plates of the Transept are richly carved with Perpendicular Style vine leaves and grapes. The modern Chancel has a finely carved hammer-beam roof; the whole Chancel being completely restored during 1844-1865. This was probably the earliest part of the church, being Early English (1166-1266) and in a shocking state in 1844.
 
There is a Norman "cushion" Capital of granite on the second pier from the west which suggests that the original building was earlier than the present Perpendicular Style, but the Restoration of the last century may have covered up other re-used Norman stones; it did, though, uncover on a pillar in the Chancel, the date, 1623 in cameo figures, this being the date of the building of the Chancel Aisle.

The restoration of the church to which I have alluded, was masterminded by the Rev. Isaac Gosset. It swept away many of the older features, but it must be understood that the church was in a deplorable state inside and out in 1844. From the Square entrance to the east wall of the Chancel, the earth rose until it was up to the sill of the Chancel window. X have already mentioned how the earth was high around the South Transept, this was the same all around the church, making the inside extremely damp. The window frames were decayed, walls were bulging, and the carved Bosses and other decorations were in a dreadful state of repair or missing altogether. It is surprising, therefore, to read in White's 1850 Directory of Devon (published barely a year after the restoration had begun) that.."the church is a large and handsome structure with a lofty tower".

Practically the first job undertaken was the removal of the plastering on the outside to bring out the fine detail of the stonework, Only two tenders were received for the contract to remove the roughcast on the Tower and to repoint the stonework; one from Thomas Lock of Northam on 7th January 1851, for a total of £90, the other from John Burch, also of Northam on the 8th January 1851, for £98. These were considered too high, so advertisements were put in the local newspapers to attract more tenders. Four more were received, the lowest of which was for £49-10-0 from Lewis Cawsey and sons, of Union Street Bideford. Mr. Cawsey was offered £40 to execute the job, but agreed to do it for £42, completing it on 17th June 1851; the account not being settled though, until 15th October 1852!

For the extensive work on the Chancel, four tenders were received., ranging from £415 to £598. The total expenditure on ail the renovations to November 1853 had amounted to £1,435-2-7¾.

The architect from the beginning was Mr. David Mackintosh of Exeter, who sadly died in 1859, aged 40, from "the effects of inflammation of the lungs". His assistant, Mr. W, F, Cross, carried on the work of the Chancel restoration; but he also died prematurely, aged 28, just after the organ had been renovated, of “the fatal effects of a fall upon the ice, causing tetanus or lockjaw". Can these events be compared with those that occurred when the tomb of Tutenkhamen was opened?!!

The window in the east wall of the Chancel was replaced with one fashioned after a window at Houghton-le-Spring in County Durham. It depicts the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, and replaces a "hideous" green glass one.

 In the south wail there are windows to the memory of Mr. Gould of Knapp House, and of Mrs. Thorold. Forest of Dean stone was used for all the renovated windows except for three new windows in the Tower, for which Gorman Down stone was used.

In 1936 an exciting discovery was made by an "indefatigable archaeologist", Miss I. D. Thornley, M.A.,F.R.Hist.S. The volume of the Churchwardens' accounts for 1562 was found to be bound with a copy of the 14th century Kyrie Eleisons. These Kyries were musical settings of the Litany, and were the exact ones sung in Northam church at that time. Major C. F. MiIsom made a copy of these Kyries which can be seen in the church; and a leaflet with a full description is on sale, also in the church.

The renovation of the church necessitated the removal of some memorials within it, from the south wall of the Nave to the north wall, but some resistance to this removal was met with. The Rev. Gosset wrote to the Rev. A. F. Lloyd of Instow, asking his permission to resite the memorial to his parents (Priscilla and Rev. Richard Lloyd). The Rev. Lloyd forwarded Gosset's letter to his sister Isabella, at the same time (17th March 1851) replying that he would “regret" the removal. Isabella Lloyd replied on the 21st March 1851 saying, "...it is therefore proper that I should acquaint you, that I will not consent to those monuments being removed." Gosset replied regretting her decision, and hoped that she would reconsider, as the monument would only be moved a few feet to the north wall; he went on, "...our sole object as you well know, in desiring to move any of the monuments was to improve the House of God, and to restore it as far as possible to what it was when built by the liberality of God's servants of old time....the plan approved of by the whole of the Church Restoration Committee was to remove alj the monuments and rearrange them on the walls of the North Aisles".

This monument is still located on the south side of the east pillar above the “1593" inscription, in rememberance of Isabella Lloyd also, who died 24th June 1874, aged 77.

Other families raised no such objections, as illustrated by a letter from William Chappell of Diddywell, in reply to a similar request, in which he states that his brothers and sisters had no objections to the removal of the tablet in memory of their brother to a more suitable place.

I have already mentioned that Martin de Littlebiri was the first recorded incumbent; the complete list is as follows.-
1261 Martin de Littlebiri
1274 Thomas de Srweleghe
cl30 John Lukcys
1344 Roger de Cloune
1348 Adam de Lycchefeld
1363 Nicholas Wake
1374 Bryan Sloman
1406 Christopher Jacob
1419 Henry Clement
C1420 Walter Schanke
1427 Richard Lyttilton
1462 John Clere
1477 Johr. Gepys
1524 John Smyth
1554 John Tetherly
1583 Philip Shapton
1606 John Bant
1625 Thomas Hull
1626 Thomas Larkham
1640 Anthony Downe
1663 Richard Bastard
1664 James Watson
1701 Richard Symons
1704 Thomas Earle
1726 Robert Doleman
1741 Joshua Bawden
1788 William Edgcumbe
1812 Thomas V. Mill
1844 Isaac H. Gosset
1870 Marcus Dymond Churchward
1917 Gerald G. Payne Cook
1932 Henry P. D. Pinhey
1944 E. Basil Bridger
1962 J. Michael Lucas
1977 David N. Chance
1995 John Thompson
2001 Richard Frost
2011 Ian Lovett
2015 David Carrington (Vicar)
2017 Derek Arnold (Rector)

Some of the memorial stones on the floor of the Chancel and the Nave are fairly worn, and some in the North Chancel Aisle are covered by woodwork, but all the ones on the walls of the church and those in the churchyard, excepting those in the New Cemetery, have been transcribed by myself; and all are being put on a database, a copy of which will be held by the church. The transcription, indexes and database held by the church should help in the location of that elusive stone, or lost relative.

The earliest date to be found on a stone is 1680, though this stone is not contemporary with this date.

Only two decipherable stones have survived from the 17th century, one of 1684, and the other of 1690.
James Cock's stone, dated 1700, is historically important as it sets out the terms of his will in which he left £200 to the poor of Northam.
Of the more interesting inscriptions, CHI to Robert Peak, a mariner who died on 25th March 1823, aged 30, is short and to the point:-
"My voige is made my anchor cast
In safety ship and hands
But now in faith I hoist my sail
For Canaan's happy land".

 
The same can be said of OE9, to Fanny Braund who died 21st April 1839, aged 37:-
"Involved in this dust to here I lie
Reader! mistake me not - it is not I
It is my dust that in this dust remains
My better part the Heaven of Heavens contains."


YJ5 is worth searching for, as it is to the memory of Benjamin Rogers, who was Guard of Honour to Napoleon on St. Helena; and who fought in the Peninsula Wars. He died 26th April 1877, aged 90 years. Another, OE8, is to the memory of William Pickard, boatswain in the Royal Navy, and who served under George III, the Regency, George IV and William IV; and yet he died young at an age of 52 on 29th January 1832.

Being a coastal parish, many stones record shipwrecks and drownings, the Thistlemor Memorial being one of these. The Thistlemor went down on December 2nd 1909 off Hartland after being struck by a succession of giant waves which tore off her ventilators and flooded her forward hold. Her 26 man crew and captain were drowned, being washed up on the shore over the next few days. The villagers told of seeing the coffins piled one above the other in the churchyard, and of the sad funeral. Two cottages being built at the time in North Street were named Thistlemor Cottages in memory of this tragedy; and the white marble memorial in the churchyard can be seen just inside the north (Bone Hill) gates.

Many other stones are worth searching out, whether it be for their design, inscription or for the person remembered, but special mention must be made of one more, that of the Melhuish family, which is on the north wall inside the church  This family held the Lordship of the Manor, and all the land connected with this is listed on this stone. In 1712 a dispute arose between the villagers and the Lord of the Manor as to whether the Burrows were Common Land, which would have always belonged to the community, and over which all had rights in common, or Commoh-of-Pasture, which belonged to the Lord of the Manor, and over which his tenants were given the right to graze farm stock; this would have been the waste of the Manor. No settlement was reached as the terms were mixed, and so the dispute continued. William Melhuish, Lord of the Manor in 1770 when he died, left the Manor of Northam and other lands to the people of Northam for 200 years, after which time they were to revert to the heirs of Thomas Melhuish, vicar of Witheridge. These terms are set out on the Memorial Plaque!

The memorial stones on the floor of the Chancel relate mainly to the Leigh, Berry and Melhuish families, all of whom were at one time or the other Lords of the Manor. They are mainly early 18th century stones recording burials as early as the late 1500's. These stones have not been transcribed.

There is a constant need for restoration, update or change to meet the needs of the community. Here are just a few of the more recent changes:-

During the 1970's the Guild Chapel of St. George, in the South Transept, was restored to use and furnished with memorial gifts. At the entrance stands the memorial to Miss Amy Facey, an Eric Collingwood sculpture of St. George standing upon a plinth depicting a cliff with sea birds in cameo. The perpetual light burns here to draw attention to the Blessed Sacrament reserved to help private prayer and a sense of holiness; for Jesus is really present with his people.
 
The High Altar stands on a new floor of Cornish slate, and the people's kneeler takes its designs from the roof bosses.

The Lady Chapel has new additions; an Eric Collingwood statue of the Suffering Madonna and Christ Child, and an altar kneeler of our Lady's flowers.

There is a new banner in the Nave depicting the church in a setting of the rivers Torridge and Taw, and the Bideford Bay. From the church door shines the love of God into the homes, schools and businesses of the parish.

The Upper Room was bought and made into a place of meeting in 1984, and contains a Collingwood plaque of the Last Supper.

The Tower was renovated in 1984, and the Organ in 1986.

The Millenium Window was added in the Lady Chapel behind the organ in 2000.

In 2014 the raised area in the chancel was extended by removing two rows of pews at the front of the nave.
Pews were also removed and Martha's corner extended to from a larger area for tables and chairs.
When replacing floor beams, two coffins were revealed under Martha's corner.

Millennium Window
Service of Celebration was held to Mark the Formation of the Mission Community on the 25th March 2015 at St Margaret’s with Bishop Nick.


Churches form a large part of our Heritage, and as such it is our duty to see that they are preserved for future generations to pray in, gain solace from and to enjoy. I hope that Northam Church will continue to do this for all who visit it.
  
Some Items © David. W. Gale 1989 Reprinted July 2001 with acknowledgements

Millennium Window The Millennium Window - St Margaret’s Church Northam
I have always loved the way a stained glass window can light up a church, even on the dullest day. Around the time of the Millennium it was announced that as all the church windows were being repaired, the old lead being replaced, it would be a splendid opportunity to create a Millennium window.

The window at the East end of the North Aisle was chosen, rising behind the organ pipes with lovely tracery at the top. Suggestions were asked for. Being an artist with a love for churches I thought I would submit an idea. The organ pipes are strong and decorative, the design must follow their shape, so a sweep of colour seemed a good idea for the bottom of the design. The window faced East, I thought of the dawn of the new Millennium.

The idea, the colours spread across the window from that beginning. The light comes from the burning, rising sun, the blue at the top represents the final disappearing of the old year, with one last planet still shining in the tracery. The new century has arrived, rising over the curving hills and fields of Devon. In front the Christian symbol of the Cross stands strongly red against the backdrop of blues and greens, and the flaming colours of the sun.

The design was approved, the practical work began. Reg Lloyd was very helpful, he explained to me how, working with glass, the colours would bleed into each other but this effect was something that could be used. It was a bit like mixing paints. Robert Patterson, who made the window, helped me too, explaining how to draw out the design to scale, on lining paper, to enable him to cut the glass pieces with precision. I was so ignorant in the early stages of the construction process, but as I learnt how it was achieved it was exciting to see my A4 sketch grow into four 16 foot high windows created with such fine craftsmanship.

My admiration for the early craftsmen, the artists and glaziers, who created beautiful windows for Churches has grown, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to be part of that great tradition. And have also been delighted by people who have said how the window lights up a comer of the Church that had been dull and dark before. The natural beauty around us and daily rising of the sun gave the inspiration for the window.

During the making I received help in many forms, and encouragement to find confidence, especially when I needed a steady hand. I felt I was not alone in creating this window.

The window is dedicated to the people in New York who lost their lives in the Destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, about the time of the Dedication and Blessing. - Gillian Heal Ferguson

Millennium Window Clergy and Readers at St Margaret's Church, Northam for licensing service of new Team Rector of Appledore, Northam and Westward Ho! Rev Derek Arnold on Sunday March 12th.

Left to right are: Archdeacon of Barnstaple - Mark Butchers, Anne Foster, Paul Smith, Nigel Price, +Robert, Derek Arnold, Sandra Juniper, Trevor Lloyd and David Carrington.