Church History

St Mary's Church was probably founded in Saxon times although the first mention of it occurs in a charter of 1136. The churchyard, entered via a type of lichgate, is mainly laid to lawn with gravestones and there is also an area for the burial of ashes. The external appearance of the church is striking, with a bell tower at its west end, mounted by a fine steeple. The peal of bells, progressively increased to the present eight, were recast in 1927 and are well regarded both by the bell-ringing fraternity and the local community. The church itself is Grade II* listed and within the Uffculme conservation area.

The church entrance is on the south side of the church. Inside one is soon struck by the mixture of architectural styles, reflecting a number of developments over the past centuries. The oldest part of the church is the north side, with circular columns dating from the 13th or 14th century. Other columns date from the 15th century and much of the interior reflects the significant Victorian adaptations carried out in the mid 19th century (under the Exeter architect John Hayward).

The rood screen is of most notable significance. The centre portion dates from the 15th century and is currently being restored to reveal the original colours. The screen was harmoniously extended in the Victorian era both to the north and the south rendering it, at 67ft, the longest in Devon.

Beyond the screen there are two chapels either side of the sanctuary. The chapels are not used for services and the sanctuary is used for the early Sunday Communion service and for a midweek Communion service. The Walrond chapel, to the north, contains a large tomb, dated 1663, and is surmounted by some interesting coloured figures in 17th century costume. There is also a recumbent figure in armour. The chapel contains an altar and modern reredos with ancient panels. The area on the opposite (south) side of the chancel is known locally as the Brice chapel, in memory of a former organist, but does not serve as a chapel and contains no altar or other religious fittings.

Nearly all church services now take place in the nave area, with a holy table in front of the rood screen and semicircular arrangement of pews which dates from a reordering of 1972.

The octagonal font of Caen stone, designed by Samuel Knight, was given in 1843 and moved from the centre of the nave to its present position in 1927. The organ dates from 1841 and has been improved and resited several times, most recently in 1981.