More history of St Giles Church

I was interested to read your anonymous article on St Giles church in the Herald last week. As we are presently organising our 2010 season of Church Tours, I feel it may interest your readers to discover a number of deve

More history of St Giles Church

I was interested to read your anonymous article on St Giles' church in the Herald last week. As we are presently organising our 2010 season of Church Tours, I feel it may interest your readers to discover a number of developments in the history of the church which were not mentioned.

At the time that the Cave family were becoming established as Lords of the Manor of Sidbury, the church building had become in such a ruinous state that it was seriously considered allowing it to collapse and transfer the parish church to St. Peter's, in Sidford - at the time, a Chapel of Ease.

Fortunately, for all concerned, the Cave family disagreed and engaged the services of a first-class architect who carried out a splendid restoration, keeping the unique nature of the church intact.


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During this period, the floor of the Nave had to be replaced and it was discovered that the colonnades separating the Aisles from the Nave were built on the cut-down walls of the Saxon church and part of the foundations contained standing stones, suggesting that the original building had been built on a pagan sacred site.

It was also discovered that our first Norman vicar, Rogerius felious Capellani, not only built the West tower, but also knocked down the Saxon Chancel, filling in what we call the 'Saxon crypt', building his own Chancel in its place.

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What is now the Vestry was, until the Reformation, a Chantry, commemorating the forebears of a wealthy Exeter silversmith. One asks why? Until one discovers from the will of Richard Playce, vicar of Kyngeston near Taunton in 1534, asking his executors to go on pilgrimage to the 'Shrine of Our Lady of Pity' at Sidbury in Devon'

The shrine was said to be on a par with that of 'Our Lady of Walsingham'.

One could go on about Sidbury's role in the 'Prayerbook Revolution', as a result of which St Giles' lost all its bells and the devastating changes which took place here in the church at the Reformation.

Admirable books by Barbara Softly - 'Sidbury's Church of a Thousand Years' and 'Within the Bounds' - Sidbury Parish - Past and Present - are available in the church and a full history is given in our summer Thursday afternoon tours, when we give our visitors a warm welcome.

With best wishes

Alan Softly

Bundels, Ridgway, Sidbury

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