St Giles Church sits at the heart of Little Torrington, a small village about 4 miles south of Great Torrington. The Domesday Book records the existence of a Saxon village ‘Toritona’, held by Edmar during the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), and it is possible the first church was built at this time.
The present 15th century church has been renovated several times in the intervening centuries, and most recently during 2017-2021 when external repairs and major internal works were carried out. These included an internal re-organisation of pews to enable a small servery kitchen and fully accessible toilet facilities, new LED lighting and underpew heating.
St Giles was originally known as St Mary’s, but due to a clerical error in the 19th century (there is another St Giles nearby), it was recorded on an official return with the wrong name, which remains in use today.
The church comprises a barrel-ceilinged porch, nave, chancel, south aisle and tower, with 6 bells. The nave and south aisle are separated by a colonnade of Lundy Island granite pillars, most unusual in Devon, and probably erected in 15th century. The font base is Norman (probably retained from the original church), and also of a chamfered style, unique in Devon and possibly in the UK, whilst the carved oak cover is Jacobean. The beautiful oak main door also dates from the 15th century and retains the original iron ‘Sanctuary ring’, which afforded fugitives safe passage if they could grab hold of it!
Whilst the internal wall decorations in the nave require some maintenance, the beautiful chancel decorations are in tact. The organ, installed in 1887, has recently been re-sited from the east end of the south aisle to the main nave in order to create a more useful open space, and improve the acoustics within St Giles – which are now superb and make it an excellent venue for choral performances. Recently it was used for rehearsals prior to an event in Exeter and featured on BBC TV.
St Giles oldest monuments (which pre-date any others in this or adjacent parishes) are 2 slate monuments – one visible on the east wall of the south aisle, and one believed to be beneath the floor close by. These record the deaths of a father and son- both of the Coppleston family who lived nearby and who passed away in 1586 and 1617 respectively. More is yet to be discovered….
There are many families represented in St Giles' churchyard, with graves centuries old. As part of a Church of England nationwide project, our churchyard will soon be surveyed and a searchable database available for those researching family history.
With it's pretty village location, superb self-catering accommodation across the road and a village hall with access to excellent catering, St. Giles and Little Torrington are ideally suited for smaller weddings and celebratory events.
Further information about our Church and services may be found here: https://www.stmichaelstorrington.org.uk/little-torrington-church.html or under 'Services and Events'
Benefice Safeguarding information may be found here: