Sampford Courtenay, St Andrew's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: The birthplace of the Prayer Book Rebellion
Standing on sloping ground down from the main street through Sampford Courtenay is the attractive 15th century church of St Andrew. There was an early medieval church on the site, but like so many Devon churches St Andrew's was completely rebuilt in the 15th century, probably around 1450.
The oldest feature in the church is the font, made of Purbeck marble around the year 1100. The font originally stood on marble shafts, but these were replaced at some point in the past. There is also an old parish chest hollowed out of a solid piece of oak.
The 1549 Prayer Book RebellionSampford Courtenay was the birthplace of the Prayer Book Rebellion, a reaction against a new English prayer book imposed by the King's Council. On Whit Sunday the service was read in the new English format, but on Whit Monday the parishioners of St Andrew's church refused to use the new style of worship and returned to the Latin Mass which they were used to.
New spread, and the rebellion erupted in several locations. The men of Sampford Courtenay joined with a band of rebels from Cornwall, and marched on Exeterm gathering support as the marched. The rebels besieged the city for 6 weeks, but were repelled by royal forces and scattered. The final battle of the Rebellion took place here in Sampford Courtenay where it began.
On 17 August the rebels were completely overwhelmed. Most were tried and executed. A permanent exhibit in the church explains the origins of the conflict, and shows where and how the Battle of Sampford Courtenay took place.
St Andrew's is a lovely church, in a very pretty village. It is fascinating to explore, but very sobering to see the spot where the Prayer Book Rebellion was launched and learn about the bloody conflict that ensued.
About Sampford Courtenay, St Andrew's Church
Address: Sampford Courtenay, Devon, England, EX20 2ST
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: In the centre of the village, off the A3124. Usually open daylight hours.
Website: Sampford Courtenay, St Andrew's Church
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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