St Peter’s Church, Westleigh

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Things to do


Date of travel

April, 2019

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Westleigh is a very attractive small village set on a ridge above the River Torridge and a short drive from the A3233 Barnstaple Street. Narrow lanes with well tended houses cluster round the church. There are few facilities in the village apart from the The C15th Westleigh Inn.

St Peter’s Church is at the top of the village and surrounded by a large graveyard. The church dates from the early C14th and the tower is C15th.

Entry is through the south porch with its carved bosses. There is a massive wood door leading into the church. The latch is unusual as you have to turn it to open rather thn press it down.

The church was originally cruciform with south and north transepts but the north transept was extended at the start of the C15th, forming the north aisle.

Inside it is a large church which has a feeling of light and airiness. The barrel plaster ceiling has wood ribs with carved gilded bosses. At the base of the ribs are carved angels holding shields. The windows contain C19th stained glass. Oil lamps hang from the ceiling although these have been adapted to take electric light bulbs. There is a wood screen across the end of the north aisle, which now encloses the vestry.

The chancel has a simple table altar with a wooden reredos. On either side are boards with the Creed, Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. The C19th east window depicts the Crucifixion.

The old wooden pews in the nave have wonderful carved end, each one different. The C15th floor tiles, which were probably made by the Barnstaple Pottery, are equally as inpressive with their patterns.

There are several splendid memorials on the walls, particularly one to Thomas Challacombe who died in 1681 and those of members of the Clevland family of nearby Tapeley Park.

Don’t miss the ancient wood parish chest with its four sturdy locks.

It is a very attractive church, one of the best in the area. Along with “Instow Church”: , it is also one of the oldest.

The church is open daily from 10-5. The road to the church is narrow and parking is restricted. The nearest post code is EX39 4NN and the grid reference is SS 472286

There are more pictures “here.”:


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