Building » Modbury – St Monica

Modbury – St Monica

Palm Cross Green, Modbury, Devon

A small and functional design of the early 1960s. The architectural claims of the building are modest, but the church has symbolic value as witness to the revival of Catholic worship within the grounds of the former priory at Modbury.   

There was a priory at Modbury until the Dissolution, of which no buildings survive. The priory probably lay to the north of the present Anglican parish church. The Catholic church is said to have been built within the former priory grounds, close to the site of the Court House of the Courts Leet, demolished in the seventeenth century. The church was opened by Bishop Restieaux in December 1962, with the first Mass said by the Prior of Ivybridge. The file in the Diocesan archives contains an undated plan and elevations for the church in a neo-Norman style by Joseph E. Walter, similar to Walter’s church at Braunton. The architect for the church as built has not been established, but design similarities with the church at Mawnan Smith, Cornwall (1964) might suggest Waldo Maitland.


St Monica’s church is a very simple astylar structure. On plan, the building is a rectangular cell, with a small projecting front porch and a flat-roofed southeast sacristy.  The side walls and porch are rendered; the end walls are shingled; the steeply-pitched roof is covered with pantiles. The porch has a flat roof and double doors flanked by plain rectangular windows. Above the porch in the main west gable wall is a wide central window with a triangular head. The roof trusses are carried down onto external buttresses which divide the side walls into four bays. In each bay a metal-framed window at the wall head breaks through the roof slope. The east wall is blind.

The interior is equally simple, with a timber boarded floor and plain plastered walls and ceiling with the timber principal rafters exposed. The windows are all clear glazed. The timber benches and other fittings are plain.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed