Church of St AndrewBuckland Monachorum
Devon PL20 7LQ
St Andrew’s in the heart of Buckland Monachorum is not only a typical old Dartmoor church but it has a significant historical connection. For many generations relatives of Sir Francis Drake worshipped in this church and built their own chapel.
Rectors & Vicars date back to 1271
There is known to have been a church on this site since Saxon times and the list of Rectors and Vicars goes back to 1271. There was a close relationship between the church and the monks of Buckland Abbey, in fact the last Abbot of Buckland became vicar of the church in 1557 following the dissolution of the Abbey.
Nothing remains of the first wooden church except a rough Saxon (c.900 AD) font in the north-west corner of the church. The Norman stone church was demolished and rebuilt in 1490 using much of the original stone. Visitors can identify the 15th century Gothic Perpendicular style by its characteristic slender arched windows ending in delicate stone tracery.
The chancel and nave has an unusual carved oak wagon roof. Turn on the electric light timed switch in the south-west of the church to get a good look at the carved angelic orchestra.
Drake Chapel
The Drake Chapel lies on the south side of the nave. A number of stone memorials bearing the Drake coat of arms can be seen on the walls of the chapel. These belong to descendants of the famous navigator.
The coat of arms is surmounted by a globe and Drake’s ship the Golden Hinde. This heraldic device was awarded to him by Queen Elizabeth I on 20 June 1581. A large pew bearing a carving of this coat of arms which used to stand in the chapel, now occupies a place near the Saxon font.
Behind the chapel altar is an elaborate 18th century monument to Baron Heathfield (General Elliott). His claim to fame apart from being married to Lady Anne Drake, is that he successfully defended Gibraltar during the long siege by Spain, from 1779 to 1783. The stirring story is told on the monument.
Two Ancient Fonts
There is lots to see in this old church but don’t miss the two fonts. Both are old in the scheme of things: the ‘newest’ one was made in 1490. It is beside the church entrance and still used today. Its eight sides still bear traces of colour and it has two carved faces, their tongues out to ward off evil spirits.
The oldest font, as previously mentioned, is Saxon. This ancient font is hewn from a single block of granite mounted on a modern base. The damage to the rim shows it once had a lid and hasp so that it could be locked to stop the holy water from being stolen. This was ordered in the 13th century so we know it was still being used then.
When the church was rebuilt in 1490 the font was considered too rough to grace the new church so it was buried beneath the church floor to prevent it being used for profane purposes. It was found in the 19th century when the floor was replaced with Victorian caustic tiles.
The Churchyard
The neat old churchyard is a lovely peaceful place to sit and when you do decide to leave, pause to look at the Victorian Memorial Cross just outside the lychgate. The cross is late 19th century, but the steps are very old because they are the base of the original Saxon Preaching Cross which stood on the village green.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here:
Opening Times
The church is open every day.
Contact & Further Information
Getting There
- By Public Transport
Buckland Monachorum village is not well served by public transport. There are regular bus services from Plymouth to Tavistock but local connections are few and far between.
Most buses to Tavistock leave from Plymouth’s Bretonside bus and coach station, post code PL4 0BG – approximately 1 mile (1.5 km) from Plymouth rail station to the bus station.
Services from Plymouth to Tavistock are run by First Group  Web:   First Group Devon Timetable
- By Car 
A good choice for Visitors Take the A386 north from Plymouth towards Tavistock and at the Yelverton roundabout, head west towards Crapstone and then to Buckland Monachorum.
Google Map - Church of St Andrew, Buckland


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