St Mary’s Church, Ottery St Mary, Devon

When you’re out and about exploring on your holidays in Devon, if you find yourselves pottering around in Ottery St Mary one thing you should do is go and have a look round St Mary’s Church, on the hill more or less in the middle of town. Goodness, it’s grand, especially for such a small community, and it’s quite a marvel architecturally, like a scaled down version of Exeter Cathedral – not really that surprising as it was founded, back in 1333, by Bishop Grandisson (then Bishop of Exeter) as a collegiate church.

One of the things you notice from outside is that St Mary’s Church has two towers, which in itself is rarely seen in English churches. But go inside and you’ll be amazed at the grandeur – the canopied tombs, rich carvings, glorious stained glass and the spectacular fan vaulted ceiling in the Dorset Aisle. Then there’s the very decorative alter screen, the soaring rib vaults in the nave and chancel, the medieval bench ends, the gold leaf and painted roof bosses, and one of the oldest surviving astronomical churches in the country.

If you’ve got little ones with you, get them to look up and spot the stone carvings – the owl, the elephant and the two green men, and in the north transept, the four faces with their mouths wide open – this was once the bell tower and the ropes passed through these to the ringers below.

All information correct at the time of writing

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