Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 12, 2022
Webpage updated: June 12, 2022




The Ancient Parish Church of Saint Mary, Tamerton Foliot,
and the fatal oak tree.
From a postcard.

The Taxation of Pope Nicholas IV, compiled in 1291, lists a church at Tamerton, long before the Foliot/Foliott family became involved with the parish.

Dedicated to Saint Mary, the Ancient Parish Church is in Tamerton Foliot Road, Tamerton Foliot, Plymouth.  It is constructed chiefly in the Perpendicular style, and consists of a quasi-chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and an embattled western tower containing six bells and a clock.  The Church could accommodate 340 seated worshippers in 1939.  The vicarage and 3 acres of glebe was in the 1870s in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor.  (The glebe seems to have been reduced to only 1 acres by 1939.)

Tamerton Foliot Ancient Parish Church.
From a postcard.

In 1617 a monument was erected in memory of Mr John Coplestone and his wife, of Warleigh House.  They are depicted in a kneeling position, facing each other.  Below them are carvings of their ten children.

Another distinctive monument is an effigy of a member of the Gorges family and his wife, who were residents of the parish in circa 1346.  The gentleman is in plate armour, and wearing a bascinet with cvarmail and a hauberk, covered by a tunic on which is the device of the Gorges, the three circles of a whirlpool.  The lady is wearing a close-fitting dress, a square head-dress and a mantle.

The Ancient Parish Church of Saint Mary, Tamerton Foliot.
From a postcard.

The Church also contains memorials and monuments to the Radcliffe's, Bampfylde's, General MaCan, Mr and Mrs J Williams Grigg, Mr and Mrs Lillicrap, Mrs S Symons and Mrs Cornish.

Next to the tower screen is a flat stone inscribed to Samuel Madock, Esquire, of Plymouth, who died on December 2nd 1713; and to the Honourable Lady Isabella (Mohun), his wife, and their daughter Catherine, died 1712.

It is thought that four of the six bells in the tower were cast as long ago as 1445 by a Mr Robert Norton, of Exeter, but this is by no means certain.  The tenor bell weighs only 11 hundredweight (cwt).  The four original bells were recast in 1773 by Messrs John Pennington and Company and the peel increased to six bells.  The registers dated from only 1794 as earlier ones were destroyed by fire.

In 1839 the tithes were commuted to cash payments, the vicarial tithes for 339 10 shillings, and the rectorial tithes for 155 10 shillings per year.  The latter right was held by Mr John Stephens in 1878.

An addition to the churchyard was consecrated in 1871.

The bells were re-hung in 1878 it is thought by the village carpenter as none of the usual bell-founding firms have a record of doing it.

A faculty was obtained in 1889 to remove the west gallery.  The tower arch was then opened and a screen erected; the floor of the belfry was relaid; a font was placed in a baptistry in the south aisle; and a lightning conductor fixed to the tower.

In 1895 the Church was restored, the chancel and north aisle being rebuilt, the roof renewed, a new carved oak communion table added, the choir stalls provided and the organ installed.

Mr Mark Edward Grigg, of Cann House, in the parish, died in Cairo, Egypt, on February 18th 1896 and his brothers and sisters donated a clock and Westminster chimes to the parish church in his memory.  It was installed by Mr J Smith, of Derby.

During 1935 a new ringing chamber was constructed and the peel of bells was re-hung again, this time on an H-pattern frame, the work being carried out by Messrs Gillett and Johnston, of Croydon, Surrey, who also installed the clock in the tower at the Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport.

On the evening of Friday September 18th 1981 a fire broke out in the roof of the Church. The Vicar, the Reverend Christopher Goodwins, along with Mr John Owen, who had raised the alarm, raced into the building to spray the altar area with fire extinguishers while the Churchwarden, Mr Derek Clarke, and other local residents rescued Bibles, hymn books and cassocks from the vestry and any other artefacts they could.  Thirty-five firemen from five fire stations attended the blaze, which lasted about three hours.  The damage was limited to the roof, which was completely destroyed, and services were transferred to the Church hall.

Saint Mary's Church re-opened with a Thanksgiving Service on Saturday September 18th 1982, which was attended by both the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Plymouth, Mr & Mrs Reg Scott, and the previous Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Ralph Morrell.  The Church was rededicated by the Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Kenneth Newing, in the presence of the Curate, the reverend Thomas Tremlett.  The organist was Mr Anthony Shaw.

The Church used to run a Mission Room at Down House, on the main road to Plymouth, where services were held on Sundays.