It is well worth taking a look inside the church. There are elements reflecting its long history from the Norman pillars on the north of the main aisle and the Norman base to the font, through fascinating Medieval wood carvings to its Victorian restoration. Much of it reflects the church’s close links over the centuries to local families. The Hawke family have farmed at Bodgate in the parish for four hundred years and many members of the family have been churchwardens. Across the base of the tower you can see the communion rails from 1685 which have been moved here from their place in front of the altar (please refer to the downloadable image). The carving shows the names of two churchwardens of the time: Josias Hawke and John Bate. If you enter the Church through the South Door look up at the slate sundial engraved with the names of the Churchwardens Dennis Kingdon and Richard Hawke and the date 1821. A number of Kingdons served as curate or vicar in North Petherwin. They were a notable clerical family in North Devon and North Cornwall through several generations, and there are other memorials to members of the family around the church. In the south aisle is a striking bronze memorial to Dennis Kingdon who was a Major in the 80th Foot Regiment; the monument depicts a martial death although he died in old age in North Petherwin. He married Mary Ann Herring, grand-daughter of Rev. Edmund Herring thus acquiring the Barton next to the church which had been part of the dowry of her Grandmother, Mary Yeo. Rev. Edmund Herring was vicar of the parish for 57 years from 1728 to 1785. Behind the organ is a fine marble memorial to Rev. Edmond Herring, with relief profiles of both him and his wife, Mary Yeo, and the coat of arms of the Herring family, quartered with the ducks of the Yeo family. In the Lady Chapel there is a memorial to three sisters of the Yeo family who all died young. It carries carvings of three girls piously kneeling and the coat of arms of their parents Edmund Yeo and Elizabeth Killigrew. The Yeo family was extremely wealthy and dominated the local area for several hundred years.
The North Chapel was built in 1518-24 by a mason called John Tuell. Look up at the carved base plates in the barrel ceiling. At first glance it appears to be a pattern of vine leaves and grapes; look closely and you can see dragons’ heads with flames coming from their mouths, and cheeky gargoyle-like faces peering from amongst the leaves—almost but not quite green men. These were carved by a Robert Longe.
Researched and written by Caroline Stone
A booklet containing more detail is available for purchase in the church or by contacting the churchwardens.
Please refer to separate tabs detailing The History of our Parish Church, The Dedication and The Holy Well.