Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

St Michael's Church, Beer, Devon

Someone once told me that Beer was nicknamed 'The Devil's Own Village', so I think it's rather apt that the Archangel who threw Satan out of heaven should be the patron saint of the church!

I'd been meaning to visit the church for some time and the opportunity to do so came on a cold, windy, rainy Sunday in the middle of January. It was my birthday and I wanted to go out somewhere, but I had to rely on the restricted Sunday bus service and all my first choices were shut for the season...so Beer it was. A couple of hours here, a picnic lunch in a shelter in the high gardens overlooking the village, then a very wet and blustery walk back home across the cliffs. What more could a girl wish for! ;)

Although this specific building was erected in 1877, a previous church had existed on this site since about 1600 and was subsequently demolished to make way for the present one. It is thought that another, earlier religious building may have stood here since 1122 AD, when Beer and Seaton belonged to the Abbey of Sherborne. Deeds show that nearby vineyards were tended by monks of Sherborne and a 13th century inventory stated that the village had to provide an annual supply of fish, salt and a tythe of wine from the vineyard for the Abbey.

Built in the Decorated style, it was mainly constructed of Beer stone from the nearby quarry, which provided stone for many famous buildings, including Westminster Abbey, and was also reputed to have been used as a safe place to store contraband by the local smugglers. It's interesting to think that the famous local smuggler, Jack Rattenbury, may well have attended the church that stood here before this one.

The walls and most of the tower consist of Hoole Head blue limestone and the columns which support the nave arcade are of Devon marble. The photo above shows a close-up of the marble topped with a beautiful carving in the lovely, soft coloured Beer limestone.

This is a delightful, friendly church with lots of interesting artefacts.  The old clock is displayed amongst a second-hand bookstore shown in the above photo, the workings of which can be seen below, and below that can be seen an old street lamp on the windowsill beneath the tower.

Above the West door, below, is the Washbourne Light. This was the old harbour light which used to be situated upon the cliff above the beach, and was used to guide the fishermen back to Beer.

I really enjoyed the time spent here as the atmosphere was very welcoming. The exterior was particularly interesting and I just managed to get several photos before it started to rain in earnest...

 ...which can be seen in the Photo Gallery album along with these and other interior photos.

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