Wednesday, January 14, 2015

St Pancras Church, Widecombe-in-the-Moor


This is going to be a long post with lots of photographs from our visit to Saint Pancras Church in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, which you can see in my present header photo.  That photo will change eventually but I thought I would keep it until I have shared all my photos from this very beautiful little village.  


Saint Pancras is cruciform in shape and consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, south porch and a 120 foot tower which contains six bells of various dates, the earliest going back to 1632.



The church was originally built in the 14th century in the late Gothic style, and was nicknamed "Cathedral of the Moors" because of its relatively large capacity for such a small village.  People would have to walk miles for services.  Thanks to the local tin-mining trade it was enlarged over the next two centuries.  Inside the ceiling is decorated with several decorative roof bosses, including the tinner's emblem of a circle of three hares (known locally as the Tinner's Rabbits).  



It was also badly damaged in the Great Thunderstorm of 1638, in which during the month of October a ball of fire passed through the church (long before lightning rods were even thought of I suppose).  Wallboards in the church tell the story.  An afternoon service was taking place at the time and the building was packed with approximately 300 worshipers.  Four of them were killed, one by a falling stone, around 60 were injured.  According to local legend the Great Thunderstorm was caused by the village being visited by the Devil. More details of this event can be found at this site.



This area is steeped in folk lore and superstition, and there are many ghost stories, one involving American actor Daniel Stern, though I could not find what this experience was about.  He said that he had 'an unsettling and possibly supernatural experience' there.  You might remember him from Home Alone 2, City Slickers, and he also narrated the TV show Wonder Years.  What I found interesting was that he had visited Widecome-in-the-Moor briefly back in 1980 when he was on his honeymoon.




I found the above picture on line, as I did the painting below, which shows the village as it was long ago.



So, who was Saint Pancras?  Pancratius was born at Phrygia in around AD290.  He was an orphan who at the age of 14 was taken to Rome by his Uncle, Dionysium, where he was converted to Christianity.  As with many saints it seems, he came to a sorry end around AD304.  You can read his whole story here if interested, which is where I got some of my information.


We were very happy that the church was open and had a good look around.  





































On the old stone floor.










The following is an explanation of the above.



There were display cases with items from previous wars.













An impressive model of the church made by a local gentleman out of what looked like matchsticks. 



In Widecombe churchyard is the grave of novelist Beatrice Chase who lived for much of her life in a cottage close to the village.  Her real name was Olive Katherine Parr and she was a direct descendant of William Parr, the brother of Catherine, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

































Near the entrance of St. Pancras there is a giftshop and out front is a 15-inch naval shell.  It was donated to the village after the First World War, to thank the villages for supplying troops with sphagnum moss.  This grows in abundance in the damp Dartmoor conditions and is said to have healing properties.  It was used as an emergency field dressing for injured troops.



Lastly, a few more scenes of the surrounding countryside.



















That's about it from our trip to one of Devonshire's most visited villages.  It is probably the first longest post I have ever done, and will probably be the last longest one I will ever do.  I hope you've found it interesting.  I had a wonderful time researching and finding out some of its history, and there is a lot more I have learned but it would take another dozen or so posts and I think I will stop here. 

If you have missed any of my Devonshire posts, you can click on the label "Devonshire_England" below this one. 

26 comments:

  1. Denise, this is thoroughly fascinating and beautiful photos...I will look at it more deeply, and I wanted to say that I have never seen such attractive kneelers like the ones depicted in your photos with the dog and needlepoint.

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  2. How wonderful! The scenery, the church, the old graveyard. It all has a feeling of Midevel. Wonder why there is a dog on the welcome mat? It doesn't seem like any kind of storm could touch the building! And yet it did. Does it have any kind of congregation now, or is it just for tourists? Seems a shame to not have it used as a church anymore.

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  3. Great post, I'll have to remember to visit the church if I am down that way. It's so goo I might even use your blog on http://graveplace.blogspot.co.uk/
    (only joking) Strange story on the Tucker Stone. I've come across a few pulpits donated by people, maybe the local clergy felt different about accepting something from a wealthy parishioner. Must be the way they are superstitious round there, mind you after wandering round Dartmoor & Exmoor I can see why.

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  4. What an absolutely GLORIOUS place. Thank you so very much.

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  5. HI Denise What a fascinating post in beautiful surrounding countryside. All that history and you told the story so well with great illustrations with your photographs. They were so many things to like in the post but I will mention just a few. Loved the 'dog' kneeler and the magnificent stain glass windows.

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  6. Denise, I enjoyed this post. It is nice to learn the history of the village, beautiful church and Saint Pancras..I love the old graveyard and stones.. The countryside is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your trip! Have a happy Wednesday.

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  7. I love the scenery. So much to see in this world, isn't there.

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  8. Fabulous post with some really excellent photos. Love the dog kneeler. Well done. Have a good week Diane

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  9. the territory is amazingly beautiful. the church is wonderful in its age and history and lore. so many details to get lost in! i liked the 'glory of god not glory of the donor'. :)

    the matchstick model is pretty amazing, too. and the border collie kneeling pad!

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  10. the whole valley is a photographers haven.. and i love the inside shots.. so much beauty in there and as i scrolled through i thought it must be very cold in there with all that stone.. thanks for the visit there, I very much enjoyed it.

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  11. it is a lovely church and the grounds around it are delightful!! sounds like you really enjoyed it!!!!

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  12. Thank you for the wonderful photos and all the interesting history associated with this church. Hope you have a great week.

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  13. Denise, thanks so much for our tour of Devonshire. The church is really awesome, and I'd love to see it in person. The countryside is so lovely.

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  14. thank you for showing us around...beautiful church, scenery, cemetery...and wow, what a story!

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  15. Even with the peculiar aspects of its history, I'd love to visit that church. It's beautiful inside, and the countryside around it is stunning!

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  16. This is an incredible post, and your photos are just excellent, as each one tells their own full story. I'm not sure if I would want to spend my honeymoon there, and perhaps by doing so I can see why he might have felt strange feelings! But a truly beautiful place.

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  17. Lovely photos of an interesting part of the world. the Tucker chair looks as if it had much use of a scatological nature. Or is that the natural color of the stone? The barrel ceiling in the church has a unique architecture. And I love the carved window openings. Nice post Denise.

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  18. Fantastic job of describing the history and appearance o the church and area. This has gone through a lo of changes.

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  19. Denise, I was so glad to come and see this post...when I visited the other day I meant to tell you I loved your header photo...so loved seeing all of these. Such a beautiful place and just so full of history. Really, really enjoyed the visit.

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  20. What a great post about a perfect village and its church. I loved this.

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  21. Wow, I was fascinated by all the great interior shots. Beautiful church steeped in history. Lovely post!

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  22. Great eerie. The church is beautiful and view is lovely. I love the old cemetery very much.
    There is a lot history.
    Hugs

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  23. Thank you Denise for such a lovely post on this interesting place. I have driven through it but never had the chance to stop and look around. I must do sometime.

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  24. That was a great set of posts Denise.

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  25. This is such a fascinating, beautiful place. I would love to wander around it and see all the history. But since I can't, I certainly enjoyed this wonderful post. Thank you.

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  26. This was a long post, Denise, but how wonderfulnto have explored a place I may never visit thru your photos and explanations. The cemetary and church would be on my list to see because of their history.

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