St Petroc's Church Oakhampton
Lydford Village
Devon EX20 4
This Lydford Church is dedicated to an ancient Celtic missionary and this tells us that its foundation goes back to the 6th century. St Petroc was born in Wales and was sent to Ireland to study. From there he travelled throughout the West Country revitalising Christianity.
There are more than 30 churches dedicated to St Petroc but when he died in 654 AD his reliquary was placed in Bodmin church.
Church dates from the 13th Century
Situated beside Lydford Castle, the present church is in the Early English (13th century), and Perpendicular styles with a 15th century tower. It is believed the original church was built of wood in 650 AD but it was burnt to the ground by the Viking raiders in 997 AD. Excavations have revealed an oratory stood on this spot.
The oldest parts are a piscina, a north chancel window and the Anglo-Saxon font. In 1297 the church was given the tithes of the whole of Dartmoor and the wealth accruing from the local tin mining, led to the church’s enlargement in the 13th century. A further extension occurred c. 1890 with the addition of the vestry and northern aisle.
Interior Decoration
Inside, the stone pillars are decorated with emblems which have been replicated in beautiful 19th century woodwork when the barrel vault was recreated.
An outstanding feature is the pews with their intricately carved bench-ends. Executed between 1923 and 1926 the figures represent the prophets, martyrs and saints surrounded by borders of words, birds and plants. There are creatures from the sea and land, insects, frogs and exquisite flowers including the primrose. It is unusual to see a ‘modern’ version of what is normally a medieval decoration.
Model of the Village in the Church
Also in the church, at the back, there is a very interesting display of models of the village.
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George Routleigh's Epitaph
Mounted on the north wall opposite the entrance is the tombstone of watchmaker George Routleigh. This well-known epitaph describes George as if he were a clock:
He departed this life
Nov 14 1802
Wound up
In hopes of being taken in hand
By his Maker
And of being thoroughly cleaned, repaired
And set-going
In the world to come
The tomb itself is on the bank outside the porch. The stone has been brought inside to protect it from the weather.
Visiting the Church
Getting There
- By Car from Tavistock (and Plymouth)
Lydford is 16 miles (25 km) north of the Devon village of Tavistock on the A386. Detailed ‘Getting There’ advice is in the Tavistock article in this website.
Google Map - St Petroc's Church


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