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A brief Church History

The present Church of St John the Baptist is a listed grade 1 building and much of dates from 14th and 15th centuries. It replaced a much earlier structure possibly Saxon or Norman and some aspects of that church can still be seen. It was included in Simon Jenkins’ book “1000 Best Churches”, published in 1999, and in Devon’s Fifty Best Churches by Dr Todd Gray in 2011.

The first Rector, Johel Walerande, was appointed to Plymtree on 9th April 1261. The arched doorway in the North Wall opposite the main door is probably all that remains of Johel Walerande’s church. However, the Yew Tree in the churchyard has been dated at over 1100 years old and would have been nearly 400 when Johel arrived!

The Church visitors’ book includes many comments about the beauty, tranquillity, peace and atmosphere of the church building, whether visiting for worship or more casually. Amongst the characteristics of the church are:

  • A fan vaulted 15th century medieval rood screen complete with original paintings on the panels.
  • Many of the wooden pews have carved ends dating from the early 16th century.
  • The outside of the tower includes a rare statue of the Madonna and Child, which was conserved in 1989 and consequently won the John Betjeman Award from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
  • There are six bells in the tower which are rung on special occasions and which were overhauled in early 2011.

More details are to be found on the link British Listed Buildings and guide books are available in church.

To view some photographs taken by a visitor to the church click here