St Swithun's Guide

The Parish Church of Woodbury stands on the site of former Churches dating back to the 7th century. An old Anglo-Saxon document says “In Woodbury land there is also another guildship gathered to Christ and St Peter”. Later in Domesday Book (1086) it is stated “The King has a Monor called Wode-berie… of it the Abbot of St Michael’s has the Church”.

Towards the end of the 12th century, Abbott Jordan of the Benedictine Monastery of St Michael, Normandy, granted the Church of Woodbury to Henry Marshall, Bishop of Exeter. Almost immediately, Bishop Marshall granted the Church to the Vicar’s Choral of St Peter’s in Exeter. These documents still exist and they account for several ways in which the administration of the Church has differred from most other churches:
(1) The Parishoners have the right to elect both Churchwardens.
(2) The priest serving the parich had the title of Chaplain or officiating Minister. The Rectors being the Vicars Choral of the Cathedral. The officiating Minister or Chaplain did not secure the title of Vicar until the end of the 19th century.
There are no traces of the Church that existed in Bishop Marchall’s time.

The present Church was begun early in the 13th century c.1220 and consisted of Chancel, Nave, Chantry and South Porch, the architecture being in the Early English style. The Piscine in the Sanctuary, the chancel-doorway, the relieving arches over it, the windows on the South side and the interior arch of the South porch all belong to this period.

The tower was added to the existing Church and consecrated in 1409. It is a noble structure 84ft high, with fine gargoyles at each angle. Provision was made for pinnacles on the "Sets off” of the buttresses and eight pinnacles surmounting the battlements, but these were never completed. The North Aisle was added at the beginning of the 16th century and the Arcade od beautiful pillars belongs to this period together with the rebuilt and enlarged Chancel Arch.


The complete Church Guide can be downloaded from the top of this page. It was written by the Revd David Share in the 1980s.



Woodbury with Exton
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