St Thomas of Canterbury, Northlew
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The Table of Continuity in the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury begins with the appointment of one Henry in 1258, but there was a church at Northlew ('Lew' being Celtic for 'bright but running stream') in Saxon times. The last stone relics of this Church are incorporated in the Village Cross nearby. The date of the actual building of St Thomas is unknown, but note the unmistakably Norman arch in what is now the gateway to the Rood Screen staircase.
Embellishments from the 12th to the 15th Centuries were due largely to the prosperity of the wool trade. The carved bench-ends and barrel roof date from the reign of Henry VIII. There was considerable vandalism by Cromwell's men, including smashing the screen and throwing out the Font (which was not rediscovered until 1870).
There followed an age of 'miserable neglect' common to many rural churches, which ended with the appointment in 1847 of Thomas England as Rector. By 1885 much had been accomplished. Work was continued under subsequent Rectors, the dilapidated gallery being replaced by choir stalls, the bells modernised, and the new screen installed in 1923. The fine little Willis organ has provided music since 1889.
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Hatherleigh EX20 3JY
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The current editor is: Ann Pantrey