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St Mary of Ottery

Consecrated by Bishop Bronescombe in 1260. Altered and added to by Bishop Grandison circa 1330. Mainly Early English. Built like Exeter Cathedral, with 2 towers above transepts. Has nave and aisles and Lady Chapel. Groining later and north aisle is Perpendicular. Very rich roof with pendants. Some fine tombs. Was a Collegiate Church from 1337 to 1545 when it was dissolved.

The building was closed on 21 May 1849 for a full restoration by the architect William Butterfield. His alterations included lowering the floor level of the transepts, crossing and western part of the chancel to that of the nave, making the east end, designed for the needs of the collegiate foundation, more suitable for parochial use. All of the galleries were removed, except for that in the south transept which was retained for the organ. The pews were removed and substituted with open seating. The altar area was paved with encaustic tiles. The walls were scraped of plaster and cleaned. The church reopened on 22 May 1850. The restoration was achieved by voluntary donation, including one of 1,200 from Mr. Justice Coleridge.

New choir stalls were dedicated in 1908. They were designed by John Duke Coleridge and paid for by Miss Mary Dickinson in memory of her father, the late Rev. Frederick Binley Dickinson.

The ancient altar screen had three vacant niches filled with sculptured scenes in 1934. The sculptural work was done in Beer stone, by Herbert Read, sculptor of Exeter, funded by Mrs Winstanley in memory of her husband, Harold WInstanley.

There ia a small stone plaque commemorating the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the south churchyard wall. Ottery St Mary parish registers are held in the Devon Record Office and begin in 1601.

Sir Ernest Mason Satow, scholar, diplomat and Japanologist, is buried in the churchyard, and a plaque inside the church, originally at the British Legation chapel in Peking, commemorates his life.

On 26 September 2015, St Mary's was the location of the first ordination service in the Church of England to be led by a woman: Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, ordained two deacons as priests.
(ref: NHLE & Wikepedia)
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