Building » Barnstaple – St Mary

Barnstaple – St Mary

Higher Church Street, Barnstaple, Devon

Modern church adjoining and replacing a neo-Norman church of the 1840s. The new church is not of particular architectural interest, but has good stained glass at the east end by Dom Charles Norris.

The first church on this site, which still survives though not in use, was built in 1844, largely at the expense of Sir Bourchier Wrey of Tavistock Courtin memory of his wife, who was a member of the Weld family. The design of the church has been attributed to A. W. N. Pugin, but this seems unlikely on stylistic grounds. The list description states that ‘the church was probably designed by Gideon Boyce of Tiverton. According to The Tablet in 1846 Boyce was named as the architect, but when the church was opened in 1855 The North Devon Journalreferred to “the late Mr Pugin” as having been the architect, and the architect R.D. Gould as having been responsible for its completion. The building, which is in the Romanesque style, is now closed up.Barnstaple is a very large parish and the old church was found to be too small.  A new and larger church was built alongside the old one in the 1980s.  

The new church is a low and spreading building under a single wide low-pitched roof with a square timber lantern and fibreglass fleche at the eastern end and a lower fore-building at the western end.  The exterior is faced with local red brick and the roof covering is Welsh slate. 


The interior is a wide unobstructed space with a carpeted floor, brown brick walls and the laminated timbers of the roof exposed with timber boarding between them. Rectangular windows in the low north wall and in the east and west gable ends; the north and west windows are clear glazed, those at the east end have stained glass by Dom. Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey, most conspicuously a figure of the Risen Christ in the main east window. The altar, ambo and pulpit are all of brick with Doulting stone tops. The Stations of the Cross were made by Nancy Kelly, a local artist.

Heritage Details


Original Date: 1984

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed