Situated in the Teign Valley and overlooking many of the green rolling hills that are so synonymous with Devon, you’ll find Trusham Church. Dedicated to St Michael, this ecclesiastical building is located in a Teign Valley village and is the oldest documented church in the area…
History of St. Michael’s Church, Trusham, Teign Valley
One of the oldest of the Teign Valley churches, St. Michael the Archangel, is a Grade II* listed building that’s located at the highest point of Trusham. The church is the only one in the Teign Valley to boast a listing in the Domesday Book (1086) but the earliest parts of the present building date to the 12th century.
Like a number of churches in the Exeter area the church was dedicated by Bishop Branscombe in 1259 carrying out a decree of 1237, belatedly, that ordered that all churches:
‘ not having been consecrated with holy oil, though built of old, should be solemnly dedicated within two years.’
It appears that no patron saint was named at the time of dedication and in the will of a former rector, Roger Doccomb, dated 1540, he referred to ‘the church of All Saints Tryssame’. At some point, after this date, the church was assigned St Michael most probably due to its position at the top of a steep hill. – like the impressive church of Brentor and that of Princetown.
Interior of St. Michael’s of Trusham
The Font dates to the 11th/12th century and is made of stone from Salcombe Regis. In 1865 a ‘modern’ font replaced the one that’s now back in situ and this original one was relegated to the churchyard. It was rescued in 1912 by the vicar of the day Revd. O. H. Carey that wrote, “… was condemned to an ignominious existence under the churchyard yew tree”.!
The Rood screen was originally constructed in c.1431 but much of the original is now missing. Like the ‘improvement’ to the font, the rood screen was removed in the 19th century but only the main uprights seem to have been salvaged.
The majority of the screen that can be seen today is the work of the studio of the well-known craftsman – Herbert Read of Exeter dating to c.1890 and similarly the pulpit was made by his studio at a slightly later date, 1924.
The Staplehill Painting is the oldest known memorial in the church. Oil on panel, this ornate plaque commemorates Hugh Staplehill of Bremen and his wife Sabina who are buried under the chancel.
The Monument to John and Mary Stooke is highly unusual in that it’s a large wooden plaque that’s painted to simulate marble and dates from 1697. There are two painted medallions in memory of John and his wife, Mary Stooke. John was a self-made man who amassed a fortune and left considerable sums to charity. The two almshouses at the fork in the road up to the church were built using this money.
The quaint village of Trusham
Nestled in the heart of the Teign Valley, the closest town to Trusham is that of Chudleigh, a historic market town with all of the amenities you would expect to find (butcher, chemist, doctor’s surgery, and the like). Trusham itself is home to under two hundred residents and has little by way of attractions.
Instead, the main things in the village worth seeing (aside from all the Devonian thatched cottages) include the Cridford Inn, opened in 1985, and of course, Trusham Church. Important to note is that the late famous poet, Charles Causley, who was born in Launceston, finds his ancestral roots in Trusham, making the village well worth a stop off point en route to somewhere else. Nearby, you’ll soon discover that the magnificent Dartmoor National Park is well worth discovering.
For those who are seeking out more historical experiences, there are plenty of other highlights of the Teign Valley. Most notable are the beautiful stained glass windows of Doddiscombsleigh Church, as well as the impressively high Canonteign Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in England.
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