St Mary

Exbourne Bench End
One of the South Aisle Bench Ends at Exbourne

Exbourne church is well-endowed with good modern bench ends. The finely carved ones in the nave and north aisle were designed by Herbert Read of Exeter and executed in his workshop soon after 1899 (Exbourne, undated).

Bench Ends and Desks – Photographs (PWDRO 116/32, 244/4 & 244/5); 1911

This set of bench ends and desks by V. Pinwill includes choir stalls and was made for the south aisle, restored a little later than the rest of the church. Seven benches and a front desk were provided for the nave, all with carved ends, of which four are not included in the photographs at PWDRO. Three benches and two desks with carved ends were made for the choir but these are now dispersed around the church to make way for less formal chairs in that area. According to a newspaper article (Devon & Exeter Gazette, 1911) the benches and desks were designed by Edmund H. Sedding, although R.F. Wheatly is given as the architect on one of the PWDRO photographs. The Lord Bishop of Crediton visited in March 1911 to reopen the south aisle and dedicate the new furniture. He also dedicated a brass tablet that states that the bench below it is a memorial to D’Oyley William Oldham, Rector of the Parish for 32 years (died 1909), who was instrumental in the restoration of the church. This bench, with one end depicting St Gregory and the other a bird and vine pattern, now sits further east near the sanctuary, and not under the brass tablet. The front panel of the desk accompanying the bench illustrates the parable of the sower and is described in the article as ‘a triumph of delicate engraving’ (Ibid. p. 3). This desk is now at the back of the nave serving as a hymn book repository. Another bench, dedicated to Elizabeth Tattershall (died 1910) and bearing her initials on the carved end, has also been removed to the back of the church, as has a desk featuring a semi-kneeling angel with thurible, which is partially hidden by other furniture. The third bench for the choir has one end carved with the initials ‘AR’ and now sits, misleadingly, below the brass tablet. Plans for the seating exist at DHC (1626B/P/22-23).


Devon & Exeter Gazette (1911) Church Restoration at Exbourne. Memorial to the Late Rector. 3 March p. 3.

DHC 1626B/P/22-23.Plans. Exbourne. South Aisle, Elevation and Roof.

Exbourne (undated) The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin Exbourne.

PWDRO 116/32 Photograph. Exbourne. Bench Ends.

PWDRO 244/4 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

PWDRO 244/5 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.