History of our church and building

PPT, the parish church of St Peter, St Paul and St Thomas of Canterbury, is the historic Church of England parish church of Bovey Tracey. A church community has existed here since Saxon times. 

Church ExteriorThere is a medieval church building standing at the top of East Street, but Church is really about people who follow Jesus. Today we are a Christian community for all ages, with a wide choice of groups and activities for children, young people and adults. 

Church InteriorBuilt at the highest point in the town the Parish Church building of St. Peter, St. Paul & St. Thomas of Canterbury has an intriguing history. It is suggested that a 13th century. church was commissioned by Sir Henry de Tracy,(who subsequently became the first Lord of the Manor of Bovey Tracey), as a means to expiate the sin of his kinsman, Sir William de Tracy, one of the four knights who murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Later in 14th century. the church fell into a sad state of neglect and poverty probably caused by the French wars and the terrible Black Death. All that remains of this 13th century. church is the tower. 

screenThe present 15th century. church was transformed into the present 'hall plan' which incorporated the transepts into the North and South aisles, ( the outer North aisle was added in 19th century.). It is interesting to note the Green Men carved over the South Porch and in the roof of the South aisle. These were thought necessary at this time.  Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby and mother of King Henry V11 owned Exeter lands  and it is thought she was the benefactor who gave the beautiful Screen and Pulpit.

In 1628 King Charles 1 appointed a fiery Scotsman and ex-army Chaplain, James Forbes, to be vicar. He was ejected during the Commonwealth and certainly made his feelings known to the Parliamentarians and the 'intruder parsons'. This is evident by the panels he had made after the restoration of the monarchy which are situated on the West Screen.

The 19th century. is notable for the long incumbency of the Hon. Charles Leslie Courtenay, a son of the Earl of Devon. He was directly appointed by Queen Victoria and married one of her Maids of Honour, Lady Caroline Summers. Canon Courtenay restored and renewed much of the church fabric we see today.

In 20th century. the church suffered its share of war damage. The East window was shattered when a land mine fell in a field close by. The other stained glass window worthy of mention is the War Memorial window on the South wall. This was presented by the parishioners as a lasting memorial to those lost in the 1914-1918 War from Bovey Tracey. Each of the diamond quarries show the initials, service badge and date of death of each serviceman.