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St Mary’s Church

The Church of St Mary has been a key feature of the Bicton landscape for more than 170 years.

There has been a church at Bicton since Saxon times. The 11th-century Domesday Book mentions the parish’s last Saxon priest, a man called Godo, who would have preached in a chapel possibly located near the site of the present building and the ruins of an early English church still stand alongside St Mary’s.

To ruins of the old church lie to the West of the present building however, all that remains is the small tower of Early English period, window tracery dating back to the 15th century and the South chapel. Inside contains the marble tomb thought to be the only work of Nicolas Stone in Devon containing Dennys Rolle, his wife and child. The ceiling of the now called mausoleum was intricately designed in a gothic style by Augustus Pugin who also designed the interior of the Houses of Parliament and remains closed to visitors because of it historical significance.  


Unfortunately,  the inside of the church of St Mary is presently closed to visitors however, on the exterior of the building the dripstones on the window arches and south porch of St Mary’s church are carved to represent 50 English kings and queens and their spouses, from Edward 1 (1239-1307) to Victoria (1819-1901).

The church was built by Lady Louisa Rolle in memory of her late husband and completed on the 21st of March 1850. The plans were made by renowned Exeter architect John Hayward, a pioneer of the Gothic revival in church design. All five monarchs from Victoria to George VI are believed to have worshipped at St Mary’s.


It is a good early and complete example of a church which adheres to their principles. The Victorian church is cruciform in plan, with the tower rising from the north transept. It is predominantly of snecked grey limestone and larger ashlar blocks. The walls are made of limestone from quarries at Chudleigh, near Newton Abbot with a dressing or Bath and Portland Stone.

Today the church stands as a reminder of the love shared between Louisa and John Rolle. The Palm House built as a love gesture for Louisa and the Church built in memory of John with both buildings still gazing at each other across The Italian Garden.

The Gardens Await

ABBA and Fleetwood Mac

Thursday – August 1st

Bohemians + K2

Thursday – August 15th

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