Parish Church of St John the Baptist


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Church Street, Paignton


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Statutory Address:
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Church Street, Paignton

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Torbay (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 88634 60836


This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 14/01/2013

SX8860 1947-1/5/12

PAIGNTON CHURCH STREET (south side) Parish Church of St John the Baptist


GV I Parish church. C12 origins; C13 alterations; C14 porch; thorough alterations of the early C15 including tower; restoration of 1864 to the designs of Ewan Christian; 1912-1914 vestries to the designs of W.D Caröe.

MATERIALS: Local red breccia and red sandstone rubble, vestries snecked; Beerstone and C19 Bathstone dressings; slate roofs.

PLAN: one of Devon's larger medieval parish churches. Nave, chancel, west tower, north and south four bay aisles, north and south transepts, south transeptal chapels between aisle and transepts containing the Lady Chapel to the north and the Kirkham chantry to the south; vestry on south side of chancel. Of the C12 church some chancel masonry survives as does the west door, re-set in the C15 west tower. Chancel includes C13 windows; evidence that arcades are C13 in origin, heightened in the C15.

EXTERIOR: chancel with setback buttresses has massive five-light transomed traceried east window with hoodmould and carved label stops, masonry C19 but part of arch appears to be medieval. North side of chancel includes some local grey limestone rubble. Two three-light Perpendicular style traceried north windows with a three-centred moulded doorway with ballflower ornament and probably C17 two-panel plank and stud door. North transept has an embattled parapet and set-back buttresses. Three-light Perpendicular style traceried east window with hoodmould and label stops.

North side of transept almost entirely filled with massive pair of windows with common mullion between but individual depressed segmental-arched heads. Each window three-light and transomed with quatrefoils in the head. Octagonal embattled rood loft stair turret in angle between transept and aisle. Set-back buttresses to north transeptal chapel which has crow-stepped gable, four-light Perpendicular style traceried east and west windows and probably C20 five-light north window. Four bay buttressed north aisle with embattled parapet with medieval beerstone north west pinnacle with crocketed finial. Four-light Perpendicular style traceried windows, one with Y tracery, hoodmoulds and carved label stops. Red sandstone triple hollow chamfered doorway in second bay from the west with probably C16 door of overlapping vertical panels, repaired at the bottom, with variety of latches and dog door. Beerstone ogival holy water stoup, adjacent to doorway. Above the door a short four-light window with a hoodmould with carved label stops. The west window of the aisle is cut in awkwardly behind the junction with the tower. Similar south aisle, also with awkwardly-positioned west window.

Tall three-stage west tower with internal northwest stair turret and embattled parapet with pinnacles. West face has re-sited C12 doorway with alternating red and white stones and detached shafts with scalloped capitals. The round-headed arch has three orders of moulding, chevron, saltire crosses and a bead; C19 door. Unusual four-light Perpendicular traceried west window with brattished horizontal stone bars in the head tracery. West, north and south faces have three-light square-headed cusped belfry windows. North and south faces have two-light traceried early C15 windows to second stage.

Embattled south porch with diagonal buttresses and C19 moulded red sandstone doorway and quadripartite rib vault springing from corbels decorated with carved feathers. Central carved boss very decayed but appears to depict the Ascension. Chamfered inner doorway with hoodmould and probably C16 door of overlapping planks with strap hinges. Kirkham chantry has crow-stepped gable, set-back buttresses and four-light Perpendicular traceried west window; renewed five-light south window with moulded capitals to the mullion. South transept matches the north. The vestry has a coped parapet and, flanked by buttresses, a quirky moulded doorway with depressed shoulders, flat ball-flower carving and a statue niche over. One-, two-, three- and five-light stone mullioned windows.Carved inscription records that the vestry was erected by Adam Mortimor Singer (qv Oldway Mansion) to the memory of his wife.

INTERIOR: arcades with octagonal piers, double-chamfered arches and moulded capitals. Moulded chancel arch springing from octagonal responds with moulded capitals. Nave roof a C19 open wagon; chancel a C19 boarded wagon with moulded ribs, carved bosses and C19 painted panels; flat, panelled aisle roofs with moulded ribs and carved bosses; double-chamfered tower arch, tower roof with six-panel timber ceiling. Chancel includes Early English two-light window in south wall, concealed externally by vestry.

FITTINGS: include the Chapin reredos, given in 1927. Eight stone statue niches with taller two-tier niches to left and right. Fine sedilia, reconstructed in 1870 using some old fragments with four crocketed gables and cusped ogee arches: bright C20 painting. Moulded arches into organ chamber and Lady Chapel on north side. Organ presented 1889 by Paris Singer (qv Oldway Mansion), organ case by M.Mowbray. Lady Chapel has a painted panelled ceiling and a very elaborate 1907 east window/reredos ensemble, the window with panelled reveals incorporating statue niches and a three bay reredos with figure groups carved in relief. North transept with altar and reredos by Ninian Comper. 1906 rood screen in a traditional Perpendicular local style, doorway with carved figures on the Kenton/ N.Bovey model, by Herbert Read of Exeter; medieval doorways to rood loft stair turret. Fine C15 stone wineglass-stem pulpit, similar to Harberton, with knobbly foliage carving and nodding ogee statue niches. Partlyre-coloured, traces of medieval paint survive. Red sandstone Norman font with a circular bowl with palmette ornament.

Spectacular late C15 chantry chapel, the best in Devon outside Exeter Cathedral, identified by Prince as being the chantry of the Kirkham family of Blagdon (qv Blagdon Manor). A deep stone screen with two Tudor arches contains tomb chests between a central doorway, the whole crowned with masses of pinnacles and carved angels. Recumbent effigies of a lady and knight on the chests, the arches and those of the central doorway with miniature fan-vaulting. Figures damaged, but the minor figures decorating the chest and the iconographic scenes are of a high quality and retain some traces of medieval colour. The iconography is very elaborate and discussed in detail in an article by Rushforth. Inside the chapel a C17 tomb chest to Sir William and Lady Kirkham with two kneeling figures facing one another under flat arches.

Other monuments include a fine gisant in a cusped tomb recess in the south aisle and a foliated cross, re-sited under a moulded tomb recess with carved spandrels in the north aisle. Various wall tablets, including a slate monument with white marble pediment to Thomas Hunt of Yalberton and tablets to the Belfield family of Primley House (qv).

Good collection of C19 and early C20 stained glass including west window of north aisle, signed Heaton, Butler and Bayne and other windows by Hardman and Clayton and Bell. Cope chest at west end of south aisle, made up of fragments of old wood some probably Flemish, with blind tracery. Vestry contains arcade of columns and fine domestic piscina, re-sited here in the early C20, which originated in Kirkham House but was mistakenly thought to have ecclesiastical origins.

Listing NGR: SX8863760836


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Devon, (1989), 838-839
Rushforth, G M , The Kirkham Monument in Paignton Church, (1927)
'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Transactions of the Devonshire Association, ()


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 27 Aug 2007
Reference: IOE01/15954/03
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Robert W Keniston. Source Historic England Archive
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