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Churches of Devon


Tiverton
St. Peter's Church


The imposing parish church in the small town of Tiverton mostly dates from a major rebuilding of between 1412 and 1429. However, the feature that cannot be ignored is the chapel and porch of John Greenway built in 1517. The carvings are just amazing. There are anchors and waves and ships of all kinds coming at you from all angles; not to mention the Barbary apes. This church was built on the back of trade: the wool trade which made Tiverton rich in the early 16th century.

Greenway was a poor Tiverton lad who rose to join the Drapers Company of London in 1497. His later association with the more widely trading Merchant Adventurers led him to become not only a wool-trader, but a ship owner with vessels such as the Trinity Greenway and Charity Greenway working out of Dartmouth. They are perhaps depicted on his chantry chapel. His monograms and merchants marks certainly appear within, along with his fine brass memorial.

A second chantry chapel, in memory of the famous Courtenay family, the Earls of Devon, once stood in the churchyard. It housed, amongst others, the gilded effigial monument of Princess Katherine, daughter of King Edward IV and wife of Sir William Courtenay, who died in 1527; but, unfortunately, the, already dilapidated building, was all but demolished during the Civil War.

Inside the church, note the finely carved capitals, the large mayor's pew with his lion and unicorn supporters and the library (not open to the public) which houses a series of books left to the church by Rev. John Newte in 1715. They include works going back to the early 16th century. Above the door are some remains of the medieval rood screen, now in Holcombe Rogus Church.

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