The congregation of St Matthew's offer a warm and friendly welcome to all who come along to our services and events.
The little church dedicated to St Matthew stands in the heart of Butterleigh village in one of the smallest rural parishes in the country. The village lies on a south facing slope off the old highway between Exeter and Tiverton and above the Burn stream.
The church building is listed Grade 2* constructed in the local purple sandstone with a battlemented tower at the west end. It has a simple layout of chancel and nave with a north aisle. Entrance is by the south porch.
The tower is the oldest structure probably being built between 1277, the date of the first recorded Rector, and 1319 when the rebuilt church was consecrated by Bishop Stapledon. The inner doorway of the porch, the piscina and the lower parts of the nave’s south wall are thought to date from this time.
Older still is the stone font originally set at the base of the tower but now in the centre of the nave.
It may well be that the church had its origins in Saxon times when Edwin held the manor in 11th C but no evidence of its timbers or any documents remain.
The church, apart from the tower, was rebuilt in 1861 and an archway inserted between the nave and chancel. An oak rood screen of 1883 fronts the chancel arch and bears the motifs of St Matthew and St Thomas.
Three bells were recorded in 1553 these being rehung in the 1720’s. The oldest, a treble, was cast c.1485 by Robert Russell of Exeter, the other and a tenor were recast by Wroth of Wellington in 1725.
I am indebted to Jill Neusinger for sight of her booklet ‘A history of St Matthew’s Church, Butterleigh’ and from which much of the above has been drawn.