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 History  Mission and Ministry Services 

History:  St Mary’s, West Worlington is a good example of a small Devon Parish Church built in the perpendicular style of archit­ecture during what might perhaps be called the ‘Devon Perpendicular’ period, when so many Devon churches were built or rebuilt in this style, and very much to this plan, that is a nave and chancel without structural division between them, no clere­story, and often one or perhaps two side-aisles according to the size and importance of the parish.
It well demonstrates the type of work carried out by local and itinerant craftsmen particularly in the wood furniture such as roof-bosses and bench-ends.
The time-scale for the construction of the church given by Professor W.G.Hoskins, the Devon historian, in his book DEVON (a volume in ‘A new survey of England’ published by Collins) is:-
Tower                          13th century (possibly rebuilt 17th).
Chancel                       14th century.
Nave & south aisle      15th century.
Bench-ends                 probably 16th century.
The delicate, modest little parclose screen near the east end of the south aisle is a late type of carving, circa 1500.
  “One should never fail” writes Hoskins, “to raise one's eyes to the roof of a Devonshire church.”
Here at Worlington the original wagon or barrel roof with its beautifully carved and decorated bosses, one of which (near the south door) depicts the Virgin Mary, is certainly a crowning glory.  Running as it does, and as is usual in Devon, the entire length of the church in an unbroken line, except for the ceilinged chancel, it adds greatly to the serene beauty of the interior.
 The bench-ends are unusual, and highly individual­istic, no two being alike.  They were probably made by itinerant craftsmen, who would have lodged in the cottage below the church gate.  The benches, other woodwork and their supporting floor have been the subject of a major restoration programme over the last five year. The tower supports a fine peal of six bells, and the famous twisted spire of wooden shingles.  This was severely damaged by a direct stroke of lightning on 6th July 1976, being restored by gallant local fund raising efforts and the assistance of many friends and well-wishers of this lovely church.  The bells were refurbished in 2002 with the aid of a National Lottery grant.
   On each side-wall of the chancel is a Stucley family memorial, a family which for many years has been associated with West Village and Church.  The east end of the side-aisle, beyond the screen, has long been known as the Stucley Chapel.  (It may well, before the Reformation, have been the Lady Chapel, although there is no sign now of the piscina, as there is in the chancel).
From the mid 14th century to the mid 17th the Stucley family, home was Affeton Castle, in the neighbouring, now vanished, village of Affeton, about a mile west of Worlington. 
During the Civil War the Castle - it was not truly a castle, but a fortified manor house - was sacked no less than three times, twice by the Royalists, and lastly, and devastatingly, by the Parliamentarians.  The cause of this excessive dual malevolence would seem to have been that Sir Thomas Stucley, the then owner, had married the daughter of a prominent Royalist and was himself a Colonel in the King's cavalry! while his younger brother, Lewis, was a non-conformist minister and one of Cromwell’s chaplains.  Thus the Castle was fair game for both armies.  It is also known that, while West Worlington, with its Affeton connection, supported the Royalists, the then completely separate village of East Worlington, having no close connect­ions with the squirarchy, supported the Parliament­arians.  The only part of the Castle left standing was the gatehouse, which has recently been restored and extended, and is now the home of the present Baronet and his family.  Much of the stone from the dismembered castle is thought to have been used as ready quarried material for rebuilding, in the late 17th & 18th centuries, earlier stone-and-cob cottages in West Worlington.
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Mission and Ministry:  St Mary’s, West Worlington comes within the licence as incumbent of the Revd David Prescott, The Vicarage, Witheridge, Tiverton EX16 8AE Tel 01884 860768 who is supported by the East and West Worlington Local Ministry Team.  They are all members of the Little Dart Team Ministry; the group of churches served by this Team Ministry was commended as a Mission Community in 2010.
The Little Dart Team works within South Molton Deanery and Barnstaple Archdeaconry as part of the Diocese of Exeter.

For East and West Worlington Contact:
  • Vicar: Adrian Wells
  • Email: vicaradrian@btinternet.com 
  • Phone: 01884 861383
Readers:         David Cain, Venn Farm, Kings Nympton, Umberleigh EX37 9TR
                        Christine Chandler, Chenson Farm, Chawleigh, Chulmleigh EX18 7LF
                        Yvonne Childs, Hope House, 6 The Square, Witheridge, EX16 8AE
                        Wendy Isaac, Waddington Farm, Chulmleigh EX18 7DU
                        Bryant Sanders, Glebe House, Kings Nympton, Umberleigh EX37 9SS

The Team Administrator is Paul Holmes, The Vestry, St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh EX18 7BR Tel: 01769 580259 littledartteamoffice@yahoo.co.uk
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Services:  In a normal month the service pattern within the parish of Worlington is:
1st Sunday:      11:15 am         Common Worship Holy Communion in St Mary’s, 
                                                                                                     East Worlington
2nd Sunday:     6:30 pm           Book of Common Prayer Evensong in St Mary’s, 
                                                                                                     West Worlington
                                                (Quarterly BCP Holy Communion in St Mary’s, 
                                                                                                      West Worlington)
3rd Sunday:     11:15 am         Informal CW Parish Service in St Mary’s, East Worlington
4th Sunday:     10:00 am         Common Worship Morning Prayer in St Mary’s,
                                                                                                        West Worlington

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