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There was almost certainly a church on the present site in the early Norman period (there is a Norman font just inside the main door circa 1160.) In the 15th century the 13th century church was enlarged, aisles added, the tower raised and the spire built. There is little known about the church building until 1865 when John Bulteel restored the fabric of the chancel and added the three stained glass windows in the east end and the north & south chancel aisles.
The west door in the tower (belfry) adorned with linen-fold & floral ironwork, has a border of foliage with a pheasant, rabbit & hounds chasing a fox. The handle of the tower door has been crafted in the shape of a bell. The windows at the west end of the church & the western window of the south side are of bubble (bottle) glass, 3 have stained glass insets, no doubt the remains of earlier windows.
The 2 modern stained glass windows by Hugh Easton, depict (in the Mildmay window) Mary Magdalene at the feet of Jesus after the Resurrection, commemorates Francis Bingham, the 1st Lord Mildmay of Flete & his son Anthony Bimgham, 2nd Lord Mildmay of Flete. The Bulteel window, shows our Lord after being taken down from the cross mourned by His Mother, commemorates John Crocker Bulteel, his wife Doris & their daughter Diana Mary.
The most imposing feature of Hele chapel is a large monument showing 23 effigies. Over the arched pediment are the arms of Hele. Arthur Mee in his book says this is a ‘striking 17th century monument to an unknown family’, although the inscription has worn away we can identify the effigies fairly accurately. At the top are Thomas Hele of Exeter, Sheriff of Devon 1600 & his wife Julian. Kneeling behind the father are his younger sons, Nicholas & Lewis and behind the mother, their 4 daughters, Joan, Grace, Judith & Penelope. Below are Thomas Hele of Flete, eldest son of Thomas & Julian. Behind the father kneel the 5 younger sons, Francis, Henry, Nicholas, Samuel & Richard & behind the mother 3 of their daughters, Bridget, Elizabeth, Honor & Dolzabell.
The magnificent east window, designed by Heywood Summer is an excellent example of Victorian workmanship. It depicts the Ascension & commemorates John Crocker Bulteel & his wife. The rood screens of the north & south chancel aisles & the parclose screens have rich & singular design, including a demi-pomegranate and rose conjoined per pale, the portcullis & fleur de lys.
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