BISHOP’s VISITATIONS

There are so many different organisations putting useful information online. It is hard to be aware of all of them. Friends of Devon Archives (FODA) is one you may not have seen.

FODA have placed online the Episcopal Visitation Returns made in 1744 and 1779 by Parish. Bishops were responsible for the morality and Christian teaching etc of each of their Parishes and these visits were part of ensuring things were being done properly. Preparations for the Bishop’s Visitation were considerable and included information gathered from each Parish incumbant. (For more information see Familysearch)

Sampford Courtney, Deanery of Okehampton

In 1744 (Chanter 225A, 358-359  ) the Rector of Sampford Courtenay was John Heath who was ordained September 24 1732 and started  this post October 12 1737. He  states that there are one hundred eighty nine families connected with the Church in Sampford Courtenay; there is one Family of Presbyterians and three of Quakers, though no licensed Meeting House, nor any fixed teacher.  There is a Charity School funded through contributions from the Parishioners, which opened “immediately after Xstmas” 1743, with up to 40 attendees. However, it was not well attended “for they are often shifting”, but teaching was given on the principles of the “Xstian Religion”.

There was no Alms house or Hospital in the Parish.  Thirty three pounds was held for support of the poor and ten pounds had been left by Sr John Ackland for “the binding out four children Apprentices” and a further “twenty shillings a year in land for the use of the poor”.

Rector John Heath states “I have a Chapel in My Parish call’d Stickle Path Chapel about five miles distant from the Parish Church and servd by my self twice in a year, and the Sacrament Administerd there each time as usual. There is likewise an old Ruinous Chapel call’d Brightly Chapel, to which I am presented by the College.”

By 1779  (Chanter 232B, 480) the Rev Rd Edwards was in post, ordained 1772 and instituted August 1772 in “Sampford Courtenay near Hatherleigh”. There were about 120 families. We have to assume Sticklepath is meant by:“There is a Chapel at a Village in the Parish where Service is performed by me twice in the year.”  At that time there were “neither Papists nor Dissenters” known to the priest. A legacy of 33 pounds & “the Rent of a Close amounts to 4 Shillings yearly, which is annually distributed” to the poor.  He also mentions some books left for the use of the priest by his predecessors.

These confirm the earlier impression I had of the Vicar coming twice a year to Sticklepath, basically to offer communion purely in order to collect his tithes!

Gladys Underhill and Jim Cooper Sept 1935

Churches were the focus of many life events, joyous or sad. My grandmother, Emma Lloyd Jones funeral April 1979 led by Rev Stark. Miss Kezia (Kate) Ching of Coombehead Farm married William Middle, Crimean war veteran 1898:

Saved newspaper clipping

Do let me know of any events special to you at this little church. Do you have any photos or newspaper clippings to share?


St Mary’s Sticklepath is progressing well with renovations and is now raising funds for interactive boards for a heritage display. Please consider a donation. Do look at the page for a photo of how good it is looking inside.

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