1864 Renovation of church

Before it’s recent renovation, this old ecclesiastical edifice was quite in keeping with the straggling and unsightly buildings of the unassuming little parish in which it is situated. Uplowman is about five miles from Tiverton; its inmates cannot be counted by their thousands; indeed, so far from that, you could easily take the census in half-an-hour.  The parish church bears the name of St Peter, and has a tower and five bells, the rectory being under the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. C.S. Bere. There is also connected with it a school, supported by subscriptions and several Charities too have been founded for the benefit of the poor.  The incumbent is a thorough good English gentleman, generally respected by all classes amongst whom he associates – whether as a promoter of Middle-class Education and co-operator of the Rev. Prebendary Brereton – whether, as the pastor of his little flock at Uplowman, or (we hope we are not irreverent) as the crack batsmen of the Tiverton Cricket Club.

St Paul’s dates its erection as far back as the 14th century, and from trustworthy evidence it appears that the liberal patron of learning, Margaret Beaufort, Contess of Richmond and Derby, and mother of Henry VII, contributed to its adornment.  This lady,it may be mentioned, also endowed a school at Torrington. The edifies, which is not at all noted for its architectural magnificences – was fast falling into decay and rain, and the worshippers were almost buried in the high pews, which were so common in former days, and are now being gradually taken down and replaced with infinitely more comfortable seats of modern invention and construction.

You can worship there with ease, and the pews, open at the end, combine every element of comfort.  No distinction, it would appear, is to be made between the wealthy and the plebeian in the allocation of seats at this House of God.  Whether the weekly offertory will be practised we are not aware.

The church has been re-roofed.  The pillars which formerly were much out of  perpendicular have been taken down and restored.  The tower arch has been thrown open, the vestry removed from the tower, and placed on the north side of the Chancel.  The Chancel has been entirely rebuilt, having three stained windows, from the establishment of Messrs. Walles and Son, of Newcastle.  The east window was given by a few friends in memory of the late Mr Commissioner Bere.  Another is in memory of the Rev.S Pidsley, formerly rector of Uplowman, and erected at the expense of his widow.  The north window was subscribed for by old friends and schoolfellows of the Rev. C S Bere, the rector.

The Chancel is laid in encaustic tile – ornamental tie – beam throws across the Chancel arch to prevent the arch from spreading.  The pulpit is new, and of bath stone, with marble shafts, etc. It is hereafter intended to fill in the panels with figures of the evangelists, size and outline in black cement.

The church is heated with Hayden’s hot air apparatus and is well ventilated. We noticed several coats of arms of the Courtenay family.  The niche at the eastern termination of the nave contains a pedestal and we were informed that on this pedestal it is supposed there formerly stood a statue of our Saviour of the patron Saint of the Church of St Peter, others again think a credence table stood there.

The only relic of the church is a bracket, probably the remains of an old capitol.  We were told that the Church underwent restoration in the latter half of the sixteenth century.  During this present restoration – which commenced last June – Divine services has been held in the school-room.

The architect was Mr Hayward, and the builder Mr Wood of Larley near Tiverton. Mr Williams of Tiverton executed the stone work. The work was done by voluntary subscription aided by a rate, the principal contributor being C Troyt, Esq. of Huntsham, brother-in-law of the rector.

Wednesday last, April 13th (1864), was chosen for the re-opening ceremony, because the church was consecrated on that date in 1318. The weather was delightfully fine and the visitors to the parish from Tiverton were consequently numerous.

The article then goes on at length about the service.

An excellent lunch – supplied by Mrs Murch, of Exeter – was provided at the Rectory.  About 60 of the neighbouring gentry, and their friends sat down. The party was quite “select”.  Mr Wood’s workmen and others dined at Redwood’s Inn.

 The Western Times    -Friday April 1 1864

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