St Michael & All Angels
Church is a small rural church clearly visible
approaching Meeth on the A386 from the north or the south.
The village has a pub The Bull & Dragon and a
glued-laminated timber business. The Devon Wildlife Trusts
Nature Reserve and the Tarka Trail are a short distance
The origins of Meeth lie in the late Saxon period forming
one of the early Christian communities of Devon, it is
mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. Recent archaeology
showed evidence of an earlier Saxon church on the site.
Three medieval graves found are from at least two phases.
Spare a thought for the Napoleonic prisoners who in 1818
laid the cobble path that is beneath your feet as you
approach this attractive small church through its early
Norman porch. Although restored and refitted in 1893 the
building is packed with history. It has retained many of its
original Norman features with additions from the 14th and
15th centuries. Angels and fine bosses carved in wood look
down from the 15th century wagon roof. There is a Norman
font here with a lid that was added by Tudor craftsmen as
was the semi octagonal panelled pulpit. The beautifully
modelled plaster coat of arms dated 1704 celebrates to
church wardens of the time and is thought to be the work of
John Abbot of Frithelstock.
The building is surrounded by a large, open churchyard, with
C18/19 gravestones of grey slate some with verse
inscriptions. The most famous burial (noted in Hoskins) is
Rev. John Lamprière, Rector 1811-24, compiler of the
Bibliotheca Classica (1788 still in print).
The church has a three-stage, unbuttressed, square tower, in
dressed grey granite blocks with four plain pinnacles.
Consistent with an early date, there is no west door, but a
two-light mullion window with segmented heads. A rectangular
stair projection extends half way up the north side of the
tower, accessed through an oak door of C14 origin. There is
a tiny Norman window on the north side of the staircase.
The four bells are all listed: two of the bells are early
medieval, from Exeter, inscribed with a cross and the words
‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Ave Maria Gracia’ respectively. The other
two (by Johannes Stadler of Chulmleigh, 1714) are inscribed
‘Ring me round, I’ll sweetly sound’ and ‘Soli Deo Detur
Gloria’ and the names of wardens John Lugg and Sam Jerman.
All four have six cannons intact. The oak frame with timber
headstocks is by Henry Stokes of Woodbury, 1902. The bells
were rehung and rededicated by the Bishop of Plymouth in
1991, and are rung regularly for services.
The tower and bells are in need of urgent repair and we are
currently fundraising. We are delighted to announce that
work began on the tower on the 4th April 2016, and is due to
be completed by October 2016.
We aim to be open for Services as normal, but access whilst
work is taking place Monday to Saturday may be restricted
for Health and Safety reasons. If in doubt contact Jenny
Priest in Charge: Rev Dr Ruth
Contact Details: Miss Jenny Green 01837 810709
Meeth Fundraising page