St Helen, Abbotsham, Devon
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- SS 424 264
- St Helen
- Type of building/monument
- Parish church
II General Description
The church is 13thc. cruciform, comprising nave, chancel, S transept and N transeptal tower of c. 1300. The church was restored in 1848 and 1870-72. The font is the only 12thc. feature.
Situated in the centre of the nave in front of the N doorway.
Chalice-shaped on an octagonal stepped plinth. The base has a thick band of cable moulding above two small rolls. This is followed by a thick, round shaft with a band of nested chevron at the top, alternating roll and hollow. The bowl is fluted and has cable moulding around the rim. There is a slight step on the inner rim.
There are clearly visible vertical toolmarks on the stem, and diagonal ones on the bowl and bands of decoration. A section of the rim has broken and been repaired. Gouges in the rim, where the lid fixings were situated have been filled with lead and large iron nails are embedded in these gouges. There are traces of red pigment on the font. Lead lined. Of grey Devonian stone.
|Total h.||0.98 m|
|h. of bowl||0.39 m app.|
|d.of bowl||0.24 m|
At the time of DS (and prior to the Conquest) the manor of Abbotsham belonged to Tavistock Abbey 'The Church at Tavistock'. The church was appropriated to the abbey in 1198 (Lysons 1822, 5).
The church guide states that the font was 'thought to have been brought from the church at Pusehill', a nearby village, and that 'there was an older church at the top of Pusehill' but no ruins are left today.
The font is one of five similar fonts in this area with fluted bowls. The others are at Beaford, Bradford, Clayhanger and Parkham. The font at Beaford also has a cable-moulded rim. Beaford and Parkham have a thick band of nested chevron around the base of the bowl.
- K. M. Clarke, The Baptismal Fonts of Devon, part IV, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, XLVIII, 1916, 307-10.
- S. and D. Lysons, Magna Britannia, 6, 1822, 5.
- N. Pevsner and B. Cherry, The Buildings of England: Devon, 1952, revised 1989, 123.
- St Helen's Abbotsham, church guide (n.d.).
- C. and F. Thorn (eds) Domesday Book: Devon, Phillimore: Chichester, 1985, I, 5, 6.