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Hartland, Devon  -  St Nectan Church
14th-15th centuries

Click on photos to enlarge
Notes in italics from Devon by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner (1989)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London

The parish church of Hartland in fact lies in Stoke, a couple of miles from Hartland village.
St Nectan
was a Celtic hermit and missionary who lived around 500 AD.



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The tower of St Nectan, at 130 ft the highest in North Devon, ... looks across a mile of fields towards America. The tower is late Perp, four stages, buttresses of type B (i.e. set back from the angle of the building), gargoyles below the battlements, and tall thin pinnacles. In the E wall a large recess with a statue of St Nectan, contemporary except for the head. The body of the church, in spite of its size (137 ft long), the crenellation of N as well as S aisle, and the addition of N and S transepts, does not look impressive from the outside, chiefly owing to the consistently renewed windows, all reconstructed during the restoration of 1848 by D. Mackintosh of Exeter. The chancel was extended E at the same time. 


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Chancel beyond screen Tower arch From north aisle west

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From chancel into nave South aisle North chancel

The interior is large and tall, the sense of generous space helped by the uncommonly tall tower arch (responds of B type (i.e. with wave mouldings between the shafts) with concave octagonal capitals) and the width of the arches between nave and aisles. They suggest a date of the late C14, i.e. earlier than the usual Perp Devon church. The arcades are not yet of granite: the piers, though already of A section (i.e. hollows in the diagonals between the four shafts), are of buff limestone, short, and with simple moulded capitals. Arches of blue (catacleuse?) stone, double-chamfered. There are four bays to the nave, one to the transept, and one more to the chancel chapels. A great asset is the well-kept wagon roofs, of all kinds, in all parts: nave unceiled in the W part, ceiled and painted with delicious large stars in the panels (renewed 1982) in the E part. N aisle partly unceiled, partly ceiled, S aisle boarded with pitch pine, N transept plastered ceiling (not shown), S transept boarded panels with carved bosses (not shown), N chancel boarded and cross-ribbed in the rich way usual for 'celures'. ...
Screen. One of the finest in North Devon, the wainscoting as usual, the tracery of type B
(i.e. a thick central mullion runs all the way to the top), coving with unusually many ribs (seven, not counting the wall arches), four bands of ornament in the cornice, and a cresting of iron. Between the ribs decoration with flowers and also shields (which is unique). ... 


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Font. Norman, square, highly decorated, the bowl with scalloped lower edge and intersecting arches above, the shafts with vertical zigzags, the foot with intersected arches upside down.
In the S chancel chapel remains of small later C14 figure scenes, perhaps from the back of a chantry chapel. The church guide suggests that they are from the remains of Hartland Abbey.


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Perp tomb-chest of catacleuse stone ... brought from Hartland Abbey and used as the high altar until the 1920s. Very good and elaborate. Quatrefoil base, main panels with elaborately cusped and traceried quatrefoils, roundels, etc., separated by stone double buttresses with little ogee niches between. Cornice with fleuron decoration.


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Memorials in the north aisle to the publisher John Lane and his adopted son Sir Allen Lane who founded Penguin Books (and published Pevsner's books). There is also a memorial slab in the churchyard. The family came from Hartland.


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The parish church lies higher up than the abbey, which, as usual, had chosen a well-watered site.

 

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