St Giles in the Wood
Tour of the Church and Parish

South Face of St Giles in the Wood
South face of the Parish Church of St Giles in the Wood


West Face of St Giles in the Wood St Giles in the Wood is a Grade II listed parish church. The church has its origins in 1309 when several landowners petitioned the Bishop of Exeter to construct a new church as St Michael's in Great Torrington was too distant. The present church dates from the 15th century, however, extensive restoration occured in 1862 with subsequent alterations in 1879 and 1987. The clock was installed in the tower in 1879 with faces on the east and west sides. An account of the reopening of the church following the 1862 restoration was published in the North Devon Journal.
Rolle Monument Mounted on the outside south wall of the tower is a badly worn tablet monument. In style the tablet is similar to that of Mary Risdon's late 17th century monument inside the church. The monument is mentioned in a 1849 report ("inscription no longer legible"), so its position here predates the 1862 restoration of the church.The coat of arms is that of the Rolle family who were the primary landowners at St Giles in the Wood from the 16th to the 19th century. The name Rolle followed by the words Anno Domi can be faintly seen.
Heraldic Shield Above the door to the north transept of the parish church of St Giles in the Wood is a carving of quartered shield. The shield most likely commemorates George Monck, KG, 1st Duke of Albemarle and 1st Earl of Torrington (1608-1670). Monck, who was born at Potheridge in the nearby parish of Merton, was the architect of the restoration of Charles II to the throne of England, and Lord Lieutenant of Devon from 1660 to his death. His son, Christopher Monck (1653-1688), was a Member of Parliament for Devon from 1667 to 1670 alongside Sir John Rolle (1627-1706), and Lord Lieutenant of Devon from 1675 to 1695. The upper left quarter of the shield displays the arms of the Monck family. The upper right quarter bears the arms of Arthur Plantagenet (1470-1542), the illegitimate son of Edward IV, and the great-great-grandfather of George Monck. Arthur Plantagenet married Elizabeth Grey (1480-1525), the daughter of Edward Grey (? -1492) and Elizabeth Talbot (? -1487). The Grey and Talbot arms appear in the lower left and lower right quarters of the shield respectively.
Interior of St Giles in the Wood The east window is flanked by commandment tablets of marble framed with alabaster. The alter rail is brass and the chancel holds oak stalls carved with some Gothic ornamentation. A low beer stone wall with marble coping screens the chancel.
Pulpit The pulpit is of alabaster resting on marble columns and dates from the 1862 restoration.
Stained Glass Window This window at the east end of the south aisle commemorates John, Lord Rolle of Stevenstone (1751-1842). From the 16th century until the early 20th century much of the parish of St Giles in the Wood was owned by the Rolle family. Two members of the family were elevated to the peerage: Henry Rolle in 1748 and his grandson John Rolle in 1796.
Stained Glass Window This window was dedicated in 1896 by Lady Gertrude Jane Douglas (1838-1924), wife of Mark Rolle, in memory of her father, mother, sister and brother. Gertrude was the daughter of George Sholto Douglas, 17th Earl of Morton (1789-1856) and Frances Theodora Rose (?-1879).
Stained Glass Window This window, located in the north transept, was dedicated in 1886 by Robert Vodden (1815-1893) in memory of his wife Eliza Matthews (1814-1881) and three of their children: Ann (1841-1872), Thomas (1854-1883) and Fanny (1830-1884).
Stained Glass Window This window, located above the door to the bell tower, commemorates Samuel Cooke (1789-1832) and his wife Elizabeth Edwards (1792-1862).
Stained Glass Window Most of the church windows contain grisaille glass installed to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
North Transept The north transept of the church contains the Vodden memorial window, the late 17th century monument to Mary Risdon and the early 18th century monument to John Kiff (1642-1712).
Effigy In 1987, part of the south aisle of the church was converted into the Mary Withecombe Chapel. As part of the renovation the effigy of Thomas Chafe, which had "lanquised" in the bell tower, was restored and moved into the chapel.
Headstones Two rows of back-to-back headstones form a large L in the south-west corner of the churchyard. Ivy, nettles and brambles can make reading the gravestones quite difficult.
Headstones This Grade II listed granite gravestone dates from the early 18th century. The stone is carved with a skull and hourglass, and bears a poetic epitaph but no name or date. A significant number of 18th and early 19th century anonymous gravestones are found at St Giles in the Wood and in the neighbouring parish of Yarnscombe.
Cross This cross is in memory of the Honorable Mark Rolle of Stevenstone and Bicton. Mark George Kerr Trefusis, the second son of Charles Rodolph TREFUSIS, 19th Lord (Baron) Clinton (1791-1866) and Lady Elizabeth Georgiana KERR (?-1871) was born on 13 Nov 1835 in Huish, Devon. He changed his name to Rolle by Royal License on 30 Jan 1852 as a condition of the will of his uncle, John, Baron Rolle (1751-1842). Mark Rolle died on 27 Apr 1907 in Argelès, France, and is buried in Huish, Devon.
Lychgate The Grade II listed lychgate dates from 1877.
Cottages Opposite the lych gate on the east side of the churchyard sits a row of Victorian cottages. The cottages date from 1876 and were constructed by Mark Rolle as part of a project that saw the renovation of the church in 1862 and the rebuilding of the manor house of Stevenstone.
Old Post House The Old Post House is a Grade II listed building opposite the church in St Giles in the House. Now a private dwelling, the house dates from 1877.
Heraldic Shield Several houses in the village features a limestone plaque carved with the arms of Mark Rolle (1835-1907). This example from one of the cottages opposite the church includes the initials M R and the date 1876.
Kingscott House Kingscott House is an early to mid 19th Century Grade II listed structure with plastered stone rubble walls and a thatch roof. Located in the hamlet of Kingscott, the house served as the vicarage for the parish of St, Giles in the Wood.
War Memorial The St Giles in the Wood War Memorial commemorates parishioners who gaves their lives during the two World Wars. The names are engraved on two plaques located inside the south porch of the church. This photograph appears courtesy of Jackie Randall.
Memorial Plaque This plaque inside the south porch of the church commemorates the twelve parishioners who gave their lives during World War One. More information about the twelve is available here.
Memorial Plaque This plaque inside the south porch of the church commemorates the five parishioners who gave their lives "for King and country" during World War Two.
Stevenstone Ruins The ivy covered ruins of Stevenstone lie about a kilometre north west of the village of St Giles in the Wood. At one time Stevenstone was the largest house in North Devon. Built by Mark ROLLE in 1868 on the site of a much earlier house, Stevenstone contained four reception rooms, eight bathrooms, and 27 bed and dressing rooms. Stevenstone was partially demolished in 1912 and was largely abandoned in the 1930s.
Stevenstone Cottages These cottages near the ruins of Stevenstone look to be of a similar date to the cottages in the village, however, they are relatively modern. After World War II, the Stevenstone stable block was converted into mews houses using materials taken from the main house
Stevenstone Library The Library is one of two buildings that survived the rebuilding of Stevenstone in 1868. The building dates from the early 18th century and was sold at auction in 1978 to the Landmark Trust.
Heraldic Cartouche One of the more dramatic features of the Library is the three large limestone keystones carved as human-head masks, each surmounted by an heraldic cartouche. The centre cartouche bears the arms of Rolle impaled with Walter. John ROLLE (1679-1730), who inherited the Rolle estates from his brother Robert ROLLE (1678-1710), married Isabella Charlotta WALTER (1687-1734) in 1706.
Stevenstone Orangery The other building that survived the rebuilding of Stevenstone was the Orangery. The Orangery was purchased and largely rebuilt by the Landmark Trust in 1978.

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