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St Luke, Buckfastleigh, Devon

(50°41′13″N, 3°47′23″W)
SX 739 660
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Devon
now Devon
medieval Exeter
now Exeter
medieval Holy Trinity
now St Luke
  • Abigail Lloyd
  • Abigail Lloyd
30th October 2021

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=1742.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.

Feature Sets

Buckfastleigh is a parish to the SE of Dartmoor in Devon, 20 miles SW of Exeter. The original parish church, Holy Trinity (https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=113820), sits in a dramatic position on a hill above the confluence of the River Dart and Mardle between Buckfastleigh and Buckfast. The rest of the town of Buckfastleigh lies below, some distance from Holy Trinity. In 1992, Holy Trinity suffered an extensive fire. The parish built a new church, St Luke's, on the Plymouth Road in the centre of the town, at which point the damaged and reconstructed Romanesque font was relocated from the ruins of Holy Trinity to St Luke's, where it now can be found.


Neighbouring Buckfast is, notably, the site of Buckfast Abbey; the current abbey dating from a refounding in 1882 on the site of the original Cistercian abbey. The first abbey was founded in 1018 and became Cistercian in 1147.

The abbot's lands in Buckfast appear in Domesday (1086). Buckfastleigh first appears (as Legh) in the Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1286.

Excavations at Holy Trinity in 2002 (post-fire) revealed an apse-like structure (possibly early Christian) and five well-preserved later Anglo-Saxon burials in substantial wooden coffins. This has been interpreted as evidence that the Holy Trinity church site was the focus for the early medieval monastic community before this moved northwards to the present site of Buckfast Abbey: Devon and Dartmoor Historic Environment Record MDV15043.





The font is said to be similar to that at Paignton, Devon, particularly in the use of its palmette motif (see forthcoming CRSBI entry: https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=313).

The four cylindrical colonettes surrounding the font stem do not integrate seamlessly into the bowl and are thought to have been added and reused from other locations. The fact that reconstruction has been necessary makes this possibility difficult to determine.


Gover J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F. M., The Place-Names of Devon (Cambridge, 1931-1932).

Historic England, 2021 National Heritage List for England: Church of Holy Trinity: 1209920 https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1209920 [Accessed 26th November 2021]

Historic England, 2021 National Heritage List for England: Church of St John the Baptist: 1195097. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1195097 [Accessed 26th November 2021]

Pevsner, N. & Cherry, B., The Buildings of England: Devon (Yale, 2001).

Slader, J.M., The Churches of Devon (Newton Abbott, 1968).