St Peter

Pulpit – Photograph (PWDRO 116/110 & 244/5) Photograph (Goldsmiths College Pinwill Archive 7) E.H. Sedding architect; 1891

There are two photographs of this beautifully carved and enchanting pulpit in PWDRO 244/5, one showing the front and the other the back. Three duplicates of the latter are found in 116/110 (church not specified and therefore subsumed into a group of ‘unknown’ pulpits) and it is these that provide information on carver and designer. A large card stands beside the pulpit in all versions, printed with the words ‘R. Pinwill and Sedding’. In the second version the words ‘designed by’ have been inserted between the two names. In the third, most interestingly, the ‘R’ has been changed to a ‘V’, when in fact the work was carried out when the company was still Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co. The second version may have given rise to the use of the name ‘Rashleigh, Pinwill, and Sedding’ in a newspaper report when the pulpit was exhibited at Harris’s Art Gallery, Plymouth (Totnes Weekly Times, 1891). To add to the confusion, there is a further photograph held at Goldsmiths, the back of which is marked ‘E. Pinwill Ermington Ivybridge’. The guide (Stoke Fleming, undated) states that Violet Pinwill carved the pulpit, although this could be a case of retro-attribution, as the altar and altar rails described below were indeed her work. Violet was only 17 years old when the pulpit was carved, whereas Ethel was slightly more mature at 19, but the conundrum will probably never be resolved. In May 1890 it was reported that the new pulpit was to be carved by ‘Mr Rashleigh Pinwill & Co., of Ermington’ (The British Architect, 1890 p. vii) but it was not installed and dedicated until the following July (Exeter Flying Post, 1891). The pulpit was given by Matilda Margaret Noble and cost £300 (The British Architect, 1891).

Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5); 1911

The beautifully carved altar features three panels depicting significant scenes from the life of St Peter, divided by palm trees, with their fronds arching over the panels. The guide (Stoke Fleming, undated) states that it is the work of Violet Pinwill. It was given to the church as a thanksgiving by Charles and Elizabeth Selby in September 1911. A faculty exists at DHC dated 1911 for the altar and the altar rails listed below (PWDRO 2423/4).

Altar Rails – Guide (Stoke Fleming, undated); 1911

According to the guide, the altar rails were carved by Violet Pinwill and installed at the same time as the altar in 1911, but the gates are certainly later additions. The rails were given in memory of the Revd J.S. Exell, Rector of the Parish for 20 years, and his wife Florence, by their son and friends.


Exeter Flying Post (1891) Local and District News. 11 July p. 5.

Goldsmiths College Pinwill Archive 7 Photograph. Stoke Fleming. Pulpit.

PWDRO 116/110 Photographs. Various. Pulpits.

PWDRO 244/5 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

PWDRO 2423/4 Catalogue. Devon and Cornwall Faculty Petitions held at Devon Record Office I-Z.

Stoke Fleming (undated) Church Guide. St. Peter’s Church Stoke Fleming.

The British Architect (1890) Trade Notes. 2 May p. vii.

The British Architect (1891) Summary of News. 10 July p. 38.

Totnes Weekly Times (1891) Dartmouth. 23 May p. 7.

Stoke Fleming Pulpit
Pulpit at Stoke Fleming
Stoke Fleming Pulpit detail
Detail of Pulpit at Stoke Fleming