Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

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

South Hams (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 87764 51329



SX874510 CHURCH CLOSE 673-1/8/64 Church of St Saviour 14/09/49


Church. Dedicated in 1372 as a chapel of ease under the Church of St Clement at Townstal (qv). Church building had commenced earlier in the C14 but it was enlarged in the late C14/early C15. The town corporation owned the advowson between 1585-1835 and were responsible for the major refurbishment of 1633-7. Vestry of 1883. A plaque records the expenditure of over »3400 in 1887-8 by EH Sedding, architect. Further renovation in 1891-3 by Ashworth; later repairs in 1932 and 1956. Local stone rubble with Bathstone and Salcombe stone dressings, the various builds show in the different styles of rubble masonry; slate roofs with pierced and crested ridge tiles. PLAN: Nave and chancel with transepts, north and south aisles extending into the chancel and flanking west tower, north and south porches, vestry on south side of the chancel. Eastern end of the nave rebuilt in the late C15 with a new rood screen (1496), possibly with the transepts. In 1633-7 the tower heightened, new windows to the aisles and the gallery erected as part of major refurbishment. In the late C19 a major restoration in 2 phases in which the church was reroofed, the chancel stripped of its C17 furnishings and "restored", the organ "enlarged", and the vestry built. EXTERIOR: Tall unbuttressed west tower, its upper stage from the C17 with embattled parapet and corner pinnacles. Belfry has mullioned round-headed windows under continuous hoodmould. Older double-lancet belfry windows below and large C19 clockfaces. Restored west doorway, a 2-centred arch with shafts and carved arch under hoodmould, contains C19 door. 4-light window above with ogival tracery. Gabled ends to aisles, like most other gables, with coping and apex crosses. C19 gabled north porch with offset buttresses, 2-centred outer arch, boarded wagon-style roof, and C19 north doorway is a moulded 2-centred arch and contains a Gothic-style door. South porch of c1630 has embattled parapet and moulded 2-centred outer arch with hoodmould and contains probably original timber panelled gates with crest of twisted iron spikes; worn stone plaque above, which formerly displayed the town arms with the date; inside are stone benches and plain vaulted roof. South doorway a C17 two-centred arch with ovolo-moulded surround. North and south aisles have C17 windows with unusual tracery of intersecting curves and large cinquefoil roundels to the gallery. The hoodmoulds on the south side are dated 1932. Gable-ended transepts running parallel to the church: both have 4-light west windows with intersecting tracery, outer C19 windows with Perpendicular tracery and blocked east windows. Chancel with C19 Perpendicular windows and, on the northern side, a thicker wall including a small blocked window. Vestry in Gothic style with embattled parapet and tall chimneyshaft (rebuilt in the late C20) and dated 1888 on rainwater head. INTERIOR: One of the best in Devon. Uninterrupted roof to nave and chancel; C19 boarded vault. Similar roofs to aisles and contemporary intersecting beam ceilings to the transepts. All are painted and feature gold stars in the transepts and chancel. Tall plain tower arch. No chancel arch. 5-bay arcades including one bay across the transepts and another overlapping into the chancel. They are not the same. Western 2 bays are C14. South side has octagonal piers with moulded capitals, north side similar but with shafts to the corners. Eastern 3 bays rebuilt in the C15 with taller arches, Pevsner's B-type profiles to the piers, carved capitals and carved fleurons and other motifs to the arches (one has an almost continuous leaf scroll). Chancel has combined piscina and sedilia - 4 bays with crocketed ogee tops. Other piscinas in the transepts, low cinquefoil head and projecting bowl below a row of 3 plain niches in the north transept, and a double cusped ogee arch with carved tracery in the spandrels with traces of old painted colour in the south transept. Tudor-arch doorway from the south chapel to the vestry containing a Gothic-style door. Windows have hollow-chamfered rere arches, except east window which has a moulded rere arch. Plastered walls. Nave and aisles have flagged floors including a large number of C17 and C18 ledger stones. Section at the east end, a series of C19 brasses have a border of polychrome marble. Black and white chequered marble in the sanctuary. Rood screen: 1496 according to the church accounts. Very high quality carved oak. 11 bays across nave and aisles. Stone stairs each end with round-headed doorways to the rood loft. Perpendicular window tracery above wainscotting with blind tracery (right end bay replaced with panelling dated 1598). Carved Gothic coving and intricately carved and undercut frieze and low crest. Ancient painted colour including defaced saints on the wainscotting. C20 replacement rood. Later parclose screens, bearing the arms and initials of James Pelliton, mayor in 1567-8, standard tracery with carved frieze to match the rood screen. West gallery: Dated 1633. Oak carving in same style as contemporary fronts of merchants' houses. Richly carved bressummer. Frontal divided into bays by standards carved as Ionic columns, panels (painted with the arms of mayors, recorders and other prominent Dartmouth men) with richly carved rails and muntins under a grille of tiny turned balusters to the handrail. Good early C18 stair, open string with carved stair brackets, slender turned balusters with blocks and moulded flat handrail. FITTINGS: South door, although dated 1631, has excellent probably C15 ironwork featuring 2 lions across a tree with large leaves. Remarkable painted altar table made in 1893 from a late C16 communion table using carvings of the Evangelists as the legs. Wooden communion rail of 1956. Late C19 oak stalls with Gothic-style ornament. Rococo organ case of 1789 by Micheau of Exeter. South chapel lined with C17 panelling (a section cut away to reveal a small brass) and some later panelling. Rare C15 painted stone pulpit, tall and encrusted with carved decoration - slender octagonal panelled stem widens above like a palm to octagonal drum (with timber door) which has broad bands of foliage top, bottom and up the corners, narrow panels originally undecorated but symbols of royal authority added with the initials of Charles II. C19 timber eagle lectern with carved decoration to stem and base. Brass lectern in south transept chapel. Low screen to south transept made up from pieces of C17 panelling, and chapel there includes a panelled stall dated 1630. South transept has altar dating from 1902 and contemporary ornate reredos built in same style and colour scheme as nearby rood screen and includes a ceramic mosaic. North transept altar and reredos erected 1957. Gothic-style municipal benches of 1815 have been moved from the chancel to the nave. Plain C14 stone font with circular stem and octagonal bowl. C19 gas lights with ornate wrought-iron brackets. Brass candelabra in nave from 1708. Towards west end of nave, a C19 timber arch with Gothic decoration under the gallery, probably contemporary with the glazed tower screen and vaulted ceiling to the tower porch. At west end of the south aisle 2 large painted charity boards recording charitable bequests between 1490-1700, the larger one a former reredos surmounted by a wooden model of a bible open at Luke VII, and flanked by Commandment boards; above it a very large painting, "The Widow's Son" by William Brockedon (1787-1854) of Totnes; also here an ancient chest and the old municipal fire engine, a Newsham model of 1737. Chancel and nave have hatchments of the Seale family. MEMORIALS: The chancel floor includes one of the most important brasses in Devon, commemorating John Hawley, shipowner, 3-times mayor of Dartmouth and major benefactor of the church, (died 1408); he is represented in armour flanked by his 2 wives under an arcade of tall cusped ogee canopies. Nearby another brass commemorating the death of Gilbert Staplehill in 1637. Several good ledger stones, but the oldest and most interesting is a fragment of a slate slab near the pulpit engraved with the figure of a priest in eucharistic vestments. Oldest mural monuments are in the chancel - on the north side, small monument to Nicholas Hayman (died 1606) has pilasters enriched with ribbonwork and cartouche below carved with emblems of mortality; on south side, large marble memorial to Walter Jago (died 1733) has Corinthian pilasters to open pediment, fluted consoles and cartouche, and smaller one below to Edward Hanbury (died 1767), shaped with urn at the top and arms below. Good monument in north transept to Roger Vavasoir (died 1696) and son Henry (died 1727), signed by Jo. Westone; Corinthian pilasters to moulded cornice and open segmental pediment with central flaming urn and allegoric figures on the pediment, tearful putti on the sill, and massive console brackets flanking a heraldic cartouche. Large late C17-style monument in the south transept apparently commemorating the refurbishment of the chapel in 1902 by William Taylor and his wife Elizabeth. Other C19 monuments in the gallery. GLASS: Much of the glass was blown out by bombs in 1943. Some C19 glass survived and subsequent C20 glass, notably in south chapel, 1969 by A Attwood. Only fragments survive of C17 heraldic glass in the aisles and includes an oval glass plaque recording the payment for window glass by the merchant Thomas Pagge in 1634. The church forms the focus for the New Quay area of Dartmouth where several houses survive with architectural parallels to the C17 carpentry and joinery in the church. Some of the houses were occupied by the merchant families who are commemorated in the church. (The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Devon: London: P.322-3; Freeman, Ray: Dartmouth and its Neighbours: Phillimore: 1990-: P.27-32; Church guide).

Listing NGR: SX8776651330


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Church of St Saviour Church Guide
Freeman, R, Dartmouth and its Neighbours, (1990), 27-32
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Devon, (1989), 322-3


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

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Date: 31 Jul 2003
Reference: IOE01/11117/08
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Brian Head. Source Historic England Archive
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