Help from on high for Colyton church

PUBLISHED: 14:42 23 June 2020

A workman carries out repairs to Colyton Church's famous Lantern Tower. Picture Joan Freeland

A workman carries out repairs to Colyton Church's famous Lantern Tower. Picture Joan Freeland


A steeplejack scaled Colyton Parish Church yesterday (Monday June 22) to carry out an emergency repair.

The workman, from West Access, in Exeter, spent the day replacing a finial on a pinnacle at St Andrew’s.

It had come down during bad weather some time ago, and shattered when it hit the roof.

The finial has been reconstructed by pinning the bits together like a 3D jigsaw, with a new mount cut from fresh stone.

The rebuilt finial and its mount are set in putty, with a long stainless steel rod running down into the body of the pinnacle.

Although the steeplejack was roped to the top of the church’s famous Lantern Tower, he accessed the pinnacle by climbing out onto the gallery just above the clock face. He then roped on to the lines he had dropped down from above to enable him to get round the outside of the pinnacle in safety.

Church warden David Fouracre said: “The tower was a 15th century addition to the earlier church, and was constructed at a time when the Colyton area was trading successfully in wool and cloth with the Low Countries.

“It is likely that not only did these wealthy merchants make major donations to its construction, but also that the design itself was brought back to Colyton from the continent.

“The work is just a small part of the continual activity to maintain the structure of this fine church.”

* The very unusual octagonal lantern lantern tower sits on top of the 12th century tower containing eight bells. On top of the lantern is a large copper weathercock weighing 70lb.

The 14th-16th century main building and later aisles contain many historical features making the church well worth a visit.

The Courtney monument in the chancel is the oldest in the church. It shows Margaret Beaufort, granddaughter of John of Gaunt, who married Thomas Courtney, 5th Earl of Devon, and died in 1439.

A fire in 1933 caused extensive damage. During renovation, a Saxon cross was discovered inside the tower and the restored cross now stands in the South Transept. It is considered the best Saxon carving in Devon.

The magnificent and huge west window installed in 1908 replaced a plain glass 15th century window.

The glass shows Christ in majesty surrounded by angels, the apostles and scenes from the life of St Andrew. Each saint has a unique halo.

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