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2009-11-5. Sylvia Sayer's monolith, St. Pancras Church - The Cathedral of the Moors, Church House, Sexton's Cottage, naval shell, lych gate, coffin stone, The Old Inn, three granite crosses, the nave, granite pulpit and other Widecombe photographs.


The Widecombe-in the-Moor web site

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The monolith near the church, designed by Lady Sylvia Sayer, showing the characters of the Widecombe Fair song about Tom Cobley and his grey mare (Widecombe's own web site) .....


The sign on the pillar .....


Close-up of the top of the structure .....


..... and closer again - "With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawke, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all (Wikipedia entry about the historical Tom Cobley) - including Bob Paul who is usually missed out (Hemery p.676) because he fell off the back of the 'orse!


Part of the village green aka "Butte Park": it was used for archery practise in the days when this was compulsory by royal command to maintain an army of skilled archers for time of war.


A view of the church tower. Note the small crosses atop the corner pinnacles.


A National Trust sign.


Outside Church house and the Sexton's Cottage.


Another sign.


The lych gate and coffin stone .....


..... as in the previous photo.


The 15-inch naval shell that was donated to the village by the National War Savings Committee for its effort in collecting sphagnum moss which, when dried, acts as a good absorbent (like cotton wool) and which has natural antiseptic qualities for treating wounds as used in WW1.


The sign on the shell.


The Old Inn - a place that is like the Dr Who's TARDIS - small outside but very large and rambling on the inside.


A view of the church.


Another village scene, with yew tree.


One of the humorous signs on the walls inside the pub.


A real log fire in the pub.


The date "1753" on a gravestone in the churchyard.


Another view of the church, I learned later that the old Widecombe cross, displaced from where the yew tree is seen above (in the 5th photo above), was re-erected outside the church door and is just visible at the right-hand edge of this photograph. It faces the opposite way to all the other crosses in the churchyard.


Sign in the lych gateway.


Three crosses, known as the Widecombe Church Crosses, are believed to have been reclaimed from the ruins of the damaged tower where they may have topped the corner pinnacles of the tower, the Great Thunder Storm, 1638 .....

"The village schoolmaster of the time, a gentleman called Roger Hill, and brother of the deceased "Master Hill", recorded the incident in a rhyming testament which is still displayed on boards (originals replaced in 1786) in the church."


A collection of four notice boards inside the main entrance to the church, telling the story of when lightning struck the tower in 1638, partly demolishing it ..... these story boards feature "f" as the long "s" of Middle English. The boards were made and set up in 1786 by the then church wardes, Peter and Silvester Mann .....


Board 1 .....


Board 2 .....


Board 3 .....


Board 4.


Richard Hill (schoolmaster, 1638)
The lines in bold are the first line on each of the four tablets on the church tower wall.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed
because His compassions fail not.
Lamentations 3.22
The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done
His marvellous works that they ought to be had
in remembrance
. Psalm 111.4
In token of our thanks to God, these tables were erected,
Who, in a dreadful thunderstorm, Our persons here protected;
Within this Church of Widecombe, 'mongst many fearful signs,
The manner of it is declared in these ensuing lines:

In sixteen hundred thirty-eight, October twenty-first,
On the Lord's Day, at afternoon, when people were addressed
To their devotions, in this church, while singing here they were
A psalm, distrusting nothing of the danger then so near,
A crack of Thunder suddenly, with Lightning, Hail, and Fire,
Fell on the church and tower here, and ran into the choir.

A sulphureous smell came with it, and the tower strangely rent,
The stones abroad into the air with violence were sent,
Some broken small as dust or sand, some whole as they came out
Forth of the building, and here lay in places round about;
Some fell upon the church, and brake the roof in many places;
Men so perplexed were they knew not one another's faces.

They all or most were stupefied with that so strange a smell
Or other force, whate'er it was, which at that time befell,
One man was struck dead; two wounded so, they died a few hours after;
No father could think on his son, nor mother mind her daughter;
One man was scorched so, that he lived but fourteen days and died;
Whose clothes were very little burnt, but many there beside
Were wounded, scorched, and stupefied in that so strange a storm,
Which who had Seen would say 'twas hard to have preserved a worm.
The different affections of people then were such
That, touching some particulars, we have omitted much;
But what we here related have is truth in most men's mouths.

Some had their skin all Over scorched, yet no harm in their clothes;
One man had money in his purse, which melted was in part,
A key likewise, which hung thereto, and yet the purse not hurt,
Save only some black holes, so small as with a needle made.
Lightning, some say, no scabbard hurts, but breaks & melts the blade.
One man there was sat on the bier that stood fast by the wall,
The bier was tore with stones that fell; he had no harm at all,
Not knowing how he thence came forth, nor how the bier was torn;
Thus in this doleful accident great numbers were forborne.

Amongst the rest a little child, which scarce knew good from ill,
Was seen to walk amidst the church, and yet preserved still.
The greatest admiration was that most men should be free
Among so many dangers here, which we did hear and see.
The church within so filled was, with timber, stones and fire,
That scarce a vacant place was seen in church or in the choir;
Nor had we memory to strive from those things to be gone,
Which would have been but work in vain; all was so quickly done.

The wit of man could not cast down so much from off the steeple,
From off the church's roof, and not destroy much of the people;
But He who rules both air and fire, and other forces all,
Hath us preserved, bless'd be His name, in that most dreadful fall.
If ever people had a cause to serve the Lord and pray,
For Judgement and Deliverance, then surely we are they....
For judgement and deliverance, then surely we are they;

Which, that we may perform, by the assistance of His grace
That we at last in time, may have with Him a dwelling place.
All ye that look upon these lines of this so sad a story.
Remember who hath you preserved, ascribe unto His glory
The preservation of your lives, who might have lost your breath
When others did, if mercy had not stepped 'twixt you and death.
We hope that they were well prepared, although we know not how
'Twas then with them. It's well with you if you are ready now. 
Ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning. Amos 4:11
Peter and Silvester Mann, Church Wardens.

Sources: Nexus- Case studies - Ball Lightning,  
Devon Heritage - Widecombe - The Great Storm of 1638



The nave, with the font.


The granite pulpit.


A model of the church .....


..... made from matchsticks.


The date "1673" on a stone in the floor of the church.


There is a tablet on the north wall of the knave in Widecombe Church to "Mary, third wife of John Elford of Sheepstor" which states they were married February 1641/1642 and she died in February 1642/1643 after bearing twin daughters. Source: The Cromwell Association - Cromwellian Britain - Widecombe-in-the-Moor (last paragraph, before Notes). - Elford tablet - get a proper photo - this one is useless!





..... and the clock struck 3 o'clock.


A last view of the clock tower against a now-blue sky. Note the small crosses ("pinnacles") at the top of each small spire - possibly replacing the three seen inside the church, see one of the photos above. 

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