St Mary’s Church, Appledore

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Things to do


Date of travel

April, 2019

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On your own

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St Mary’s Church is at the northern end of the Quay, overlooking the Torridge estuary. It is surrounded by a large graveyard which contains the graves of many sailors drowned when attempting to cross the sand bank which forms a barrier to the Torridge estuary at low tide.

Like “Instow”: across the estuary, the site has been used for Christian worship since the C6th. Before St Mary’s Church was built in the C19th, there was a small chapel near here dedicated to St Anne, on a site still known locally as Chapel Field.

In 1834, the Rector wrote to the Bishop of Exeter asking permission to build a new and larger church in Appledore. Money was raised quickly and the new church was consecrated two years later. The nave was widened and a clerestory added at the end of the C19th, and these alterations can be recognised by the different stone used. As the population of Appledore continued to grow, the gallery was removed and the west end enlarged and the tower built in 1909. The clock came from the United Services College at nearby Westward Ho!

It is a surprisingly large church inside with very wide central nave with arcade octagonal pillars and pointed arches and narrow side aisles. Small plain glass clerestory windows were added when the nave was widened. Walls are whitewashed and the nave ceiling is painted blue with white ribs with carved bosses. There are small plaster cherubim heads at the base of the ribs. There is a wooden screen between the nave and chancel.

The chancel has a simple altar with a panelled reredos behind. The brightly coloured east window has the Crucifixion in the centre. At the bottom is the Last Supper with the Nativity and Ascension on either side. At the top are the four evangelists.

The tiny St Anne’s Chapel at end of south aisle was dedicated in 1988. Above the altar is the Lundy Window with St Helena, the patron saint of Lundy carrying a boat and St Michael with an aeroplane. Sea birds include a puffin.

On the south wall of St Anne’s Chapel is a memorial window to the war dead of the Second World War, and especially Lord Glanely, a great benefactor of the church. It depicts Jesus stilling the storm with the patron saints of sailors (St Nicholas), soldiers (St George) and airman (St Michael) with a list of the war dead. On either side are the Colours of HMS Appledore.

Near it in the south aisle is the First World War window, which was given by Lord Glanely, listing the names of the dead along with two angels. One holds the chalice and the other a Martyr’s crown. Before them are figures representing those who lost their lives including a soldier, sailor, nurse and priest.

The Roll of Honour by the north door also commemorates the dead from the First World War. The names are on either side of a picture of the Crucified Christ looking down on a fallen soldier.

At the back of the church and somewhat hidden behind table and chairs is a modern mural entitled ‘The Industrial Christ’ depicting the dependence of Appledore on the sea. In the centre is Christ. On his left are three coastal craft with a selection of traditional ship building tools. On the right is an Appledore shipyard with a selection of modern welding and cutting equipment.

The carved stone pulpit continues the nautical theme with the stand representing a rope coil. The shields have the initials of the donor and family members.

In the north aisle is the lovely Garden of Gethsemane window with Christ and and angel in the foreground. In the background is Jerusalem with the figures of Judas and the High Priests coming to arrest Christ.

This is a most attractive church inside with some particularly good stained glass. It is open daily. There is a large car park at the end of the quay. The nearest post code is EX39 1RL and the grid reference is SS 464306.

There are more pictures “here.”:


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