Offwell, Devon, St Mary's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 15th century tower screen
St Mary's church was begun around the year 1200, though it seems very likely there was an earlier building on the same spot. The first known tenant of the manor was Gervase de Offewell (1219) and it may have been Gervase who built the Norman church.
The most interesting woodwork are 2 panels of a 15th century screen installed in the tower. The screen was rescued from the Church of St Mary Major in Exeter when that church was torn down in the 19th century. It was installed in the new Victorian church of St Mary Major, but then that church too was pulled down. The screen was installed in Offwell church in 1970.
In the north chapel is a 15th century font. The octagonal bowl is carved with quatrefoil panels and decorative foliage. The font cover is 17th century and is toped with the figure of an eagle.
The east window of the chapel contains good 18th century glass, and the south chancel window holds fragments of medieval glass. The organ was made by 'Father' Willis, one of the great Victorian organ makers, and installed in 1859.
The other historic feature I really enjoyed was the wonderful carvings on the capitals of the columns in the nave arcade. One carving shows a peculiar beast, perhaps a lion, sticking its tongue out, while another depicts a Green Man, foliage issuing from his mouth.
One intriguing series of carvings shows a group of men in robes wrestling; at least that was my first impression, though one man has his robe thrown up, exposing his bare bottom. It isn't clear what the carvings represent, but they certainly appear to be pushing the boundaries of good taste. Perhaps there's a morailty tale message there thathas been lost over the past 600 years!
In the churchyard are a pair of yew trees, one planted in 1650 and the other in 1804.
About Offwell, St Mary's Church
Address: Ramsden Lane, Offwell, Devon, England, EX14 9SA
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Website: Offwell, St Mary's Church
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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Nearest Accommodation to Offwell, St Mary's Church:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Centre
The Old Courthouse
Tel: 01297 34386
Fax: 01297 34386