Facilities and features
Click on the tags below to learn more about each.
A brand new conversion /rebuild of the South Porch provides a disabled toilet 🚽, a baby changing shelf, and a small kitchenette facility. These are so impressive we have been nicknamed the "En Suite Church"
Baby changing 🚼facilities are located in the South Porch toilet.
🚓 A small car park is available in the centre of the village. If the barrier is down, an exit token is available from the Church House Inn, or Norman the Church Verger.
The toilet is accessible from the church, it being completely flat, into the South Porch. It is wheelchair friendly.
The defibrillator is in the far left hand end of Emma's porch.
Emma's Restaurant is opposite the entrance to Church Walk.
The church has two strong wooden ramps for disabled access. These are located by the North Porch. Help will be given by the sidesmen, or other helpers on a Sunday.
During the week, the ramps are available for use, and will require an able bodied person.
Large print service books are available for most services on request.
Our Church ⛪
Our Grade 1 listed church stands on a steep bluff at the end of Church Walk – a pretty, cobbled street of medieval houses. It overlooks the Mill Pool and the River Dart in a designated Conservation Area and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The original building, dating from the 13th century, had a smaller footprint than the building of today. It was originally dedicated to St Gabriel. The building fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in the 15th century with north and south aisles in a perpendicular Gothic style. Of the original building, only the tower survives. At the time of the re-building, the font, pulpit and rood screen were added.
The appearance of the interior owes much to the Victorians, who in the latter half of the 19th century gave the church a new roof, windows and floor, which was elevated in the chancel and in particular the sanctuary. They also installed new open-access pews and an organ, added a vestry and south porch, and rebuilt the lych gate. It was rededicated in 1846 jointly to St Mary and St Gabriel.
The church has been at the heart of the parish for centuries and generations of Stoke Gabriel families have been inspired and reassured by the sound of its bells and its solid presence in their midst.
The churchyard surrounds the church and has fine views over the Mill Pool and the River Dart with plenty of south-facing benches for people to rest, contemplate or simply enjoy the views. There are some Commonwealth War Graves and many fine headstones dating from the 18th century commemorating members of local families, including the Pomeroys and Churchwards. The churchyard also contains a centuries-old yew tree.
Old School Room
Built as a dwelling in the 17th century, it was used for a National School in 1839, and then in the 20th century as a village hall, until eventually assuming its current role as a church hall (known as the Old School Room ). As such, social events and receptions following services are often held here.
It is used by the village Pre-School group during the week and is available for hire for village events and meetings at other times.
A small post office counter is available in the village shop opposite Church Walk.
Music and Worship
🔔 The tower has six bells with the tenor weighing 17cwt. We have a team of call change ringers from within the parish, of mixed abilities and ages. The team participates in striking competitions at both deanery and county level and have won numerous competitions including the county championship. Team members also assist at other ringing events, such as the Dartmouth Regatta.
The bells are rung before the regular services of worship as well as for special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, and, if requested, at weddings and funerals. Practice night is a Thursday from 7.30 to 9.00pm. The team has a strong social commitment and, as well as retiring to the Church House Inn after practice sessions, undertakes an annual bell-ringing tour and also meets with partners for its annual dinner at a nearby restaurant.
A team activity that helps to stimulate the brain and to maintain fitness, bellringing can provide much enjoyment. New recruits to the team from all walks of life, young or old, with or without experience, are always welcome.
The present organ was installed in 1996. It was originally built in 1920 by Harrison and Harrison of Durham City, one of England’s foremost organ builders, and purchased by the PCC from the Royal School of Church music, Addington Palace. It was dedicated at the same time as the Lady Chapel, in 1996.
Our BCP services are the 8:15 morning communion services.
11:15 communion services are taken from Common Worship.
The church has a strong and enthusiastic SATB choir comprising some twenty members, all of whom live in the parish. The choir participates at all the sung services of the church with the majority regularly turning out for the principal Sunday morning and for festival services. In months where there is a fifth Sunday, the choir sings a full Choral Evensong with Introit and Anthem, the appointed psalm and choral settings of the Nunc Dimittis and Magnificat by Stanford, Walmisley, Wood and others. The choir also sings at Christmas in St Michael’s, a private chapel in Waddeton and at weddings and funerals, throughout the year, as requested. Each year the choir performs a substantial choral work, specifically organised as a community event. For this the choir is augmented, with local singers and friends who appreciate the opportunity to take part. and to sing more challenging repertoire. Recent years have seen liturgical performances of Requiems by Faure and Rutter and Schubert’s Mass in G Major. Plans are currently in place to present Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, in November as part of the parish’s commemoration of the centenary of the end of the first world war.
The choir has regular hour-long, practice sessions every Friday at 7.00 pm and half-hour sessions immediately before the main sung services. Members of the choir participate in RSCM events and in services of Choral Evensong at St Mary’s Church, Totnes, as well as other local choirs. Although the church doesn’t have a permanent Director of Music, we are fortunate that organist Wyn Turner takes Friday practices and plays at Evensong. The choir is also supported by a rota of organists for 11.15 am services.
The choir is about much more than leading the singing in church. It has a strong social and community commitment, regularly competing (and winning) in the village carnival and meeting at a nearby restaurant for dinner once a year with partners. It is open and welcoming of new SATB talent who have a joy for choral singing and a passion for fun and social interaction.
Groups, Courses and Activities
These are led under the title of "Crafty", e.g. Crafty Advent, Crafty Lent, usually held for a seasonal event. Please contact Gill Still on 01803 782301 for the next event.
Help for Visitors
Guidebooks are available to take away at £1 per copy.
The church is usually open from 10:00 am and locked at midday, during the current lockdown. Social distancing will be enforced.