The Birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh
The Church of All Saints is very ancient, probably dating back from early Saxon times. In 1859 one of the principal walls was demolished and pieces of worked Saxon stone
were found embedded in the structure, leading to the conclusion that a church stood on the site before the coming of William the Conqueror. The charter rolls from the 12th
century show that the Polso nuns lived in a nearby priory and cared for the church over three centuries. Then the church was small, comprising a low tower, nave and chancel.
Bishop Lacey began to enlarge the church in 1420, adding the two upper stages of the tower and the north and south aisles. The fine wagon roof and the great west window
were probably built at the same time.
The nuns were expelled by Henry VIII during the years 1539 to 1540 and possession of the
manor and church soon passed into the hands of the Duke family. The living was within the
gift of the family for the next two hundred years until 1795 when Sir Henry Rolle purchased
the estates. Since those times the manor has descended down the family to the present Lord
Clinton, Gerard Fane Trefusis who is the current patron of the church. The present serenity
of All Saints belies its turbulent past. It undoubtedly played a part in the "Great Rebellion in
the West", resulting in a battle waged on nearby Woodbury Common in August 1549.
During the Commonwealth period, Cromwell's men wreaked destruction on the church,
fortunately with no lasting damage to the fabric. In a lighter vein, the locals used to hold
riotous games and a fair every Sunday on what is now the northern burial ground; until the
disapproving village elders insisted that it be held there on Mondays instead. Undoubtedly
the Church's most famous parishioner was Sir Walter Raleigh, who was born in nearby
Hayes Barton and attended the church as a boy.
For hundreds of years there has been a tradition of throwing buns from
the tower to the children of the Parish. Here we have a retired Vicar and
Choirmaster carrying out this tradition. The local Drakes school now
provides the children and they certainly enjoy the outing.
An ancient chalice,
believed to be in use at
the time of Raleigh.
The magnificent knave of All Saints, with
the carved pew ends visible along the
The corbel mounted on the South face
of the porch is believed to represent
Bishop Lacy, the 13th Century Bishop
The ancient art of bell ringing is still practiced in the village. They are
deeply concentrating on this complicated procedure and really did not
notice the photographer.
This Bible dates
from 1634 and
giving a high
quality very dark
quality to the
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