“Ottery St Mary is a town where you can feel the presence of your Haydon ancestors. It has played its own unique role in shaping British history; its architecture and monuments reflect some of these key events but it is the landscape that truly reveals its past.

Although pre-historic man's use of the surrounding countryside, with its natural vantage points to develop small dwellings, it was the Saxons who first created the farmsteads on which Ottery was founded. The town name originated from the first manor house occupied by the Canons of Rouen (1061-1337) named 'Otrei'. It wasn't until 1207 that "St Mary" was added to the place-name in honour of the town church. Ottery was soon to became a thriving market town, by charter of Henry III.

          John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter, modified Ottery's Church, an imposing structure that today still dominates the town's skyline, from its original structure in 1337.  Originally of Norman design, it was extended and modified so that it looked like a mini replica of Exeter Cathedral. Its weathercock is now over 500 years old and is believed to be the oldest in Europe.

During the infamous period of European history that has been characterized by the population's long struggle against the Black Death (Bubonic Plague), over half the population of Ottery St Mary was wiped out. It had a turbulent history over the following years with sporadic outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague until the town settled down with a new identity during the English Civil War.  In 1645, with the country split in half and fighting each other, Ottery St Mary became a busy garrison town under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax.

The history books indicate that Oliver Cromwell visited and stayed in Ottery St Mary when he came to survey the progress of his army in the south west of England. He allowed his troops to remain in the town after their campaigns, in order that they should have some rest and recuperation. During his stay, Fairfax and Cromwell set up their campaign headquarters in Ottery's Chanters House where they plotted the next stage of their campaign and their next

movements. However, another outbreak of the plague was instrumental in finally moving troops out of the area.”

“The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, with chapels at the east end, a second aisle on the north side called the Dorset aisle, (picture) north and south transepts, with towers as at Exeter, Lady Chapel, (picture) and north and south porches. Bishop Bronescombe dedicated the original church in the month of December 1260. His successor, Bishop Grandisson, began the work of reconstruction about 1337, his idea being to make, on a smaller scale, a copy of Exeter Cathedral. He used the wall and windows of Bronescombe's church, but added a new nave at one end, and a Lady Chapel at the other, and converted the transepts into two towers similar to those at Exeter Cathedral. The Dorset aisle was added between 1504 and 1530 by Cicely, daughter and heiress of William, Lord Boneville; as her second husband she married Henry, Lord Stafford, who died in 1523. Over the entrance to the north porch are carved the Stafford arms. Mr. Butterfield restored the church in 1850. In the western arches of the nave, on the north and south sides, are two very fine monuments; on the north side, beneath a richly carved canopy, rests the full-length figure of Sir Otho Grandisson, Knt., brother of the Bishop. The armour in which he is clad is a good example of that worn about the middle of the reign of Edward III [1327-1377]. The monument on the south side has the full-length figure of Beatrice, Sir Otho's wife, (picture) clad in the costume of the same period.  Both monuments are surmounted with elegant ogee and crocketed arches, terminating in bold finials. It is a great pity that such a fine monument should be surrounded and half-hidden by pews.

The south porch door retains its ancient lock, the handle being dated 1575 with the initials of the donor, John Haydon of Cadhay. The interior of the west wall of the church has been covered with carved stonework, the gift in 1901 of Mrs. Metcalfe, the widow of William Henry Metcalfe, vicar of the parish from 1874 to 1890. The old font is buried beneath a modern construction of many colored marbles, a fine font, but out of keeping with the church. There is a good carved wooden pulpit, the work of a parishioner, and dated 1722; the lectern of bronze is copied from a brass one in St. Nicholas' Chapel, Kings Lynn [Norfolk].

In the south transept is preserved an ancient clock, probably dating from the time of Bishop Grandisson [1327-1369]. For over 30 years it was silent, the works being in a heap of debris, but in 1907 it was restored and restarted by the Bishop of Exeter, on the Monday in Whitsun week, May 20th. There are four 14th century clocks of this description in existence in the west of England; those at Exeter Cathedral, Devon; Wells Cathedral, Somerset; Wimbourne Minster, Dorset; and Ottery, but it is only in the two last that retain their original works. The dial is arranged according to the old theory of astronomy, which regarded the earth as the centre of the solar system. A round ball to represent the sun, points the hours, a star the moon's age. The clock is still wound the old-fashioned way, capstan fashion, by four spokes projecting from the barrel, and hempen rope is still used. The interior of the south transept was much enriched by the late Lord Coleridge [1820-1894], Lord Chief Justice of England, in memory of his first wife and his parents, and contains a recumbent figure of the first Lady Coleridge. The eight bells in the south tower are rung from this transept.

In the chancel are some old choir stalls dating from Grandisson's time, and two parclose screens with doors, said to be 14th century work. At the east end of the chancel is a fine altar screen, with canopied niches, from which the figures are missing. On the cornice are carved coats of arms, these were originally painted on a flat surface, but were carved at a restoration of the screen. The shields bear the following arms:— (1) The Grandisson family; (2) Sir John de Northwode; (3) Sibill, wife of William, Lord Grandisson, and mother of the Bishop; (4) Blanche, daughter of Roger de Mortimer, wife of Lord Peter Grandisson, who was brother of the Bishop; (5) the Royal arms of France; (6) the Royal arms of England; (7) the arms of Bishop Grandisson; (8) the arms of William de Motacute, who married one of the Bishop's sisters; (9) the arms of the Courtenay family.

On the south side of the chancel are very fine triple sedilia in carved stone. On the north side is the tomb of John Haydon, who died June 9th 1587. (pictures) At the east end of the south aisle there is a piscina and three brasses with male figures representing members of the Sherman family of Knightstone. Two of the figures were apparently ecclesiastics, the third a laymen; two of them dated: the first, Joannes, died 1542; the second, Gulielmus, died 1583. At the extreme east end of the church is the Lady Chapel,(picture) with some old stalls, sedilia with four seats, a gilded wooden eagle, given to the church by Bishop Grandisson, whose portrait is on a corbel on the south wall, and lastly, a very fine stone minstrel gallery, with double arcade. A parapet of open quatrefoil work surmounts the eastern side of the gallery. The supports consist of six shafts of Purbeck marble, and two corbel heads projecting from the wall; from these springs the groining and the tracery.

The north or Dorset aisle has a roof of very rich fan tracery springing from angel corbels, and having pierced pendants. On shields held by the angels on the corbels are the arms of Bishops Courtenay and Vesey. There is a fine western window of six lights to this aisle, representing the Transfiguration. At the east end of the aisle is the monument of John Coke, Esq., of Thorne, who died on March 28th 1632; he is represented in armour grasping his sword; he is said to have been murdered by a younger brother, and the story goes that at midnight the statue steps down from its niche and walks about the church. His grandson restored the monument in 1726.

Throughout the roof of the church may be seen small leaden pipes, which it is supposed were used for the chains which suspended the numerous lamps used for lighting the church. The building is peculiarly rich in consecration crosses; there are 13 outside, and 8 inside. These crosses were used to mark the spots where the Bishop touched the walls with holy oil when he consecrated the building.

There are some fine bosses in the roof running from the centre of the church to the end of the Lady Chapel. The first represents Bishop Grandisson in episcopal robes, then St. John the Baptist, St. Anne presenting the Blessed Virgin in the Temple, the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin and Child; and over the altar is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (the Assumption celebrated on August 15th was the great annual festival of the church); the next boss represents our Lord offering the Blessed Virgin the orb of sovereignty, as the Queen of Heaven, and lastly, our Lord as Judge of the Quick and the Dead [2 Tim. 4:1-5].

The first vicar found was Mainwarynge, admitted to the then vacant vicarage on June 28th 1580.  The registers date from 1634.” 

Ottery's ancient town stocks located in the Churchyard.

These were first constructed in the town after the period of the Black Death.  They were used as an alternative to a night in jail for drunkenness or for failure to pay fines.

Ottery St. Mary Church in Devon. Home church of the Haydons and partially built by them. The tomb of John Haydon and more than 15 Haydon families rest here.




The Pulpit



 Left- A Jabez Haskell Hayden photograph made ca. 1887 of the interior of Ottery St. Mary Church, in Devon.  “The large glass chandelier, now hanging in the church at Ottery Saint Mary, is said to have belonged originally to the Haydons, and was formerly in the old Cadhay Hall.” (Where is it now?)



Lady Chapel Screen 





From the 1888 Jabez Hayden genealogy: “This John #1 was a highly successful and wealthy lawyer.  He was Steward to Bishop Veysey and legal adviser to the Exeter City Council. John (#1) Haydon, second son of  #12 Richardus/Richard (Jr.) Haydon, died in 1587, and is the first Haydon buried in Ottery St Mary Church.” (above photo)

The above photo of John's 1587 tomb in Ottery St. Mary Church was taken in 1887. Another descendant, William Haydon listed as viiA in my Devon Line genealogy appears to be also buried with him in 1722. The old engraving above John’s tomb appears to have been chiseled out and now bears the newer 1722 dedication to William while the old date of John’s 1587 still appears on the bottom. This newer engraving now reads,” Here lieth the body of William Haydon, Gent. Son of Gideon Haydon, Esq. Of Cadhay, who departed this life in the 80th year of his life in the year 1722. (Born in 1642) See photos next.



















  Here Lyeth ye body of Catherine eldest Daughter of Gideon Haydon of Cadhay Esq. and of Catherine his wife who Deceased the 28th day of July in the year of our Lord 1663.

 Floor tomb in the Ottery St. Mary Church, Devon, England with two photos taped together.

My parish records do list a Katherine, died 28 July, buried 30 July, 1663 at Ottery St. Mary who is the daughter of Gideon II.  His wife, also as per Ottery parish records, is Eleanor Cator who was buried also at Ottery on Jan. 29, 1690/91.  There is no parish record of a wife Catherine for this Gideon II.  Gideon III did have a wife Catherine buried here in 1697, parish record.





                                                                                                                                  J.H. (John Haydon) initials embossed under the church door ring at Ottery St. Mary Church.
Ottery St. Mary Church
Posted to Web on April 16, 2009
File completed-T.G.K.