Church of St. Petrock

St. Petroc - Stained glass window in Truro Cathedral
St. Petroc – Stained glass window in Truro Cathedral

The former Parish Church of St. Petrock is a landmark building standing to the East of Parracombe village in the hamlet of Churchtown. The first church purported to be built on the site circa 525 AD, was raise in the name of St. Petrock on his arrival from South Wales. It was likely to have been constructed of cob, wattle and thatched with straw. The first stone church erected in the 11th century was probably funded by William de Falaise, a near relative of William the Conqueror.

Present church is mainly 15th Century, the oldest portion being the tower which is dated to 1182, with part of the south wall being rebuilt in the 17th Century. The church contained an early English chancel built by the St. Albans, who obtained the manor of Parracombe about 1200.  Its main quality is the completeness of its 17th and 18th Century interior fittings.  These include a three tier pulpit, box pews, a screen with tympanum above, painted text boards and mural tablets to local yeomen.

Rev. J.F. Chanter
Rev. J.F. Chanter

Through the efforts of the rev. J.F. Chanter, repair works were undertaken on St. Petrock’s in 1878.  Despite these attempts and owing to fears about structural stability, it was proposed in 1879 that it would be demolished and a new church built on the site.  A wave of protest was led by John Ruskin, who offered to help fund a new church elsewhere to avoid what he said would be an “act of vandalism.” In 1969 St.Petrock’s was declared redundant with the last burial in the graveyard being 1971. In the same year it was the first church in the country to be vested in the Churches Conservation Trust.  It is now one of the most visited of the 300 or so churches the Trust now cares for.

Further information can be found on Exmoor National Park St Petrocs Church Historic Environment Record and The Churches Conservation Trust St Petrock’s Information

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