Buried History – Graves in the Churchyard

Buried History – Graves in the Churchyard

There are some interesting burials to be found in the churchyard. The oldest headstone dates back to November 1639, and belongs to John Reede. His father was also buried there in 1650. The Naval Officers Lt. Henry Nowell and William Nowell were buried there in 1804 and 1810. Henry served as a commander of the Naval Signal Station, situated on Peak Hill, during the Napoleonic Wars.

After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, Richard Duke, Clerk in the Court of Augmentations (the body that looked after monastic properties seized by the Crown) bought Otterton manor. He converted part of the monastic buildings to a new manor house, which is the building on the North side of the church. Richard served as Sheriff of Devon, and died in 1572 whereupon his nephew inherited the manor. Richard and his wife Katherine were put into vaults in the church.

When the church was rebuilt, the Duke family vaults were emptied and their bones were reburied in a trench in the churchyard. The original brass plaques from the coffins are now displayed on the west wall of the church.

Perhaps the most mysterious headstone is one near the footpath that is so badly damaged it is hard to make out. It reveals that someone aged 23 was drowned in ‘ye Great Flood’. We assume this was probably in the 18th century, though the mystery remains unsolved!

The churchyard is within the village’s conservation area and contains 22 structures that are individually listed Grade II:

Relative to Tower:
Anonymous headstone 11m SSEBird chest tomb 15m southCarter headstone 9m SSECrumpe headstone 25m south
Francis chest tomb 5m south east
Main chest tomb 18m south
Paver headstone 21m south

Shore chest tomb 25m south
Tedbury chest tomb 4m south east
Whyte headstone 24m south

Relative to Porch:
Braddock headstone 6m south
Paver headstone 6m south south West
Peedesen headstone 6m south west
Ramson chest tomb 12m south
Wood headstone 7m south

Relative to Chancel:
Cook chest tomb 11m south
Dench headstone 9m south
Grant headstone 17m south east
Porburry headstone 16m south east
Slader headstone 10m south

Relative to Aisle:
Stoford headstone 8m south
Way chest tomb 3m south