Church of St John the Baptist Instow

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April, 2019

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The Church of St John the Baptist is on top of a hill at the northern end of Instow village and surrounded by large graveyard.The church is one of several pre-Norman churches founded in the area by Celtic missionaries in the C6th. Domesday Book records a priest here, although there is no trace left of this church, apart from the font. The chancel is C13th but the rest of the church is later, with the north aisle being added in the C16th. The very tall tower was probably a landmark for seafarers. The church was sensitively restored in the late C19th, when the pews were replaced, an organ and heating installed and a vestry added.

It is a big church with an arcade separating the nave from the massive north aisle. The south transept is small. The churh has a wood beam roof, with a candelabra hanging from the chancel. The north aisle being later has a plaster roof with wooden ribs with carved bosses. Gas lights hang from the ceiling, although they have been adapted to take electric light bulbs. Stained glass is C19th. A wooden screen separates the nave from the chancel.

There is a wood screen across the base of the tower which has a small gallery above. There is a list of rectors by the door dating from 1260. The Simple Norman font is just inside the door.

There are old grave slabs in the nave floor and the chancel contains C17th Barnstaple tiles.

The table altar has a simple wood cross. On either side are wood panels with the Ten Commandments.

The south transept has a splendid monument to John Downe, son of the Rector who died during his second year at Oxford University.

This is a very attractive church and is open daily 10-5. ( Be patient if the key holder is a little late.) It is worth finding.

The lane to the church is narrow, but there is some parking space by the lych gate just beyond the church. The nearest post code is EX39 4LU and the grid reference is SS 480310.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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