St.Winifreds Church

Normal pattern of St Winifred's Church Services 

1st Sunday of the month: 11.00 am Holy Communion 

2nd Sunday of the month: 11.00 am All Age Worship (except for the 2nd Sunday in November when there is a Remembrance Sunday service instead starting a little before 11.00 am).

3rd Sunday of the month: 11.00 am Holy Communion 

4th Sunday of the month: 6.00 pm Evensong (Often no Evensong in January: Cathedral Evensong instead)

Coffee, tea etc is provided in the church after the regular morning services.

When there are five Sundays in the month there is a combined service at 11.00 am in one of the four parish churches of Lustleigh, Manaton, Moretonhampstead and North Bovey.

More information including special services or variations in the above can be found on the group website and A Church Near You.

The church is normally open every day from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (or dusk if earlier) for private prayer and personal reflection, and for visitors

Churchwardens:     Rose Underhill, tel 01647 221 202, email
                                  Tim Baily,         tel 01647 221 635, email

Safeguarding officer: Rose Underhill, tel 01647 221 202, email

Parishes administrator (for enquiries about baptisms, weddings and funerals):
                                Guy Sheppard, tel 01647 440 989, email


The Church is one of the focal points in Manaton, occupying a prominent site in the upper part of the village on the north side of the village green. Lying in the lee of Manaton Rocks and thus sheltered from the north, to the south the view is across to Hayne Down and Bowerman’s Nose, a marvellous vista of the moor as you leave out of the south porch.

The oldest parts of the present granite-built church are the nave and chancel built early in the fifteenth century and later that century were added the north and south aisles, with the tower also being built then or at least soon after.

Earlier in 2020 Devon Historic Graffiti Survey highlighted some other interesting marks. Information and photographs can be seen on the official report at Alternatively, there is a link to the report on the benefice website .

As the church is mainly granite, the only graffiti found so far is on the timber screens. This includes two identical motifs which could be read as I X Christograms (the Greek letters for Jesus Christ), although it can’t be certain that the maker would have known this symbolism. The motifs are, however, carefully executed and clearly had some significance and purpose. Interestingly they both have the central vertical stroke offset to the right.

The remaining graffiti comprises marks commonly associated with a protective function, namely irregular grids and scored lines, and the single letters V and W and a ladder (or tally marks).

Devon Historic Graffiti Survey have consented to the publication of this information which is a shortened and slightly amended version of the official report.

A graffiti survey has not yet been undertaken in the tower. This has of necessity been delayed.

The PCC are in the process of seeking the appropriate permissions to make a minor extension to the church to provide a disabled lavatory and small kitchen and other works. Please contact the churchwarden (see contact details above) for further information or look on the benefice website .


For the first 150 years or so of the present church, Catholicism prevailed, and during this time, around AD 1500, the rood screen was built, with its Tudor Rose and Fleur de Lys decorations, commemorating many Christian saints and martyrs. When the Reformation came to England towards the middle of the sixteenth century a decree from the Privy Council in 1548 ordered all superstitious images to be taken down or defaced. It was almost certainly at this time that all the figures on the screen were defaced and the statues on the top removed.


St.Winifred’s is adorned with five stained glass windows. At the west end of the church stands a tower, 76 feet high and about 500 years old. The tower clock,installed in 1934 in memory of Charlotte Kitson, strikes every hour and can be heard in all parts of the village. For many years the tower suffered from damp and in 1931 a fund was started to provide a rendering for the whole tower and the Western end of the south wall.


Much older than the clock and even more audible is the set of bells, housed within the tower. In fact in the set of six bells there are three which are as old as or older than the tower itself. In 1934 all the bells were taken down, repaired, retuned and rehung on strengthened frames – a very necessary operation considering the bells together weigh 33 cwt.3qtr.11lbs!

With bells go bell-ringers, practising an ancient and traditional skill, proclaiming imminent services at the church as well as marking times of celebration and, with muffled peal, sadness. As far as we are able to tell a local team of bell ringers has existed without interruption and peals have been regularly rung.


The interest in St.Winifred’s, however, lies not only in the building and its interior but in the churchyard and the surrounds of the church. Approaching from the Green, one passes through the lychgate just in front of the flagstaff given in memory of Brigadier Welchman stands the village war memorial erected in 1921 to commemorate originally those who fell in the Great War. Later were added the names of those who fell in the 1939-45 war – together including names from many well-known local families. There, in the shadow of the ancient church, those who gave their lives in the two world wars are remembered annually early in November at the service of Remembrance, led by the local branch of the British Legion, at which a roll of honour is read and a wreath is laid at the foot of the War Memorial.


The cross provides every Dartmoor Guide with a good tale. The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould wrote in "A Book of Dartmoor", published in 1900:

"In the churchyard was a fine granite cross. A former rector, the Reverend C. Carwithen, wantonly destroyed it in the night. The people had been wont at a funeral to carry the corpse the way of the sun thrice round the cross before internment. He preached against the custom ineffectually, so he secretly smashed the cross."