Parish Church of St. Michael
The church now has its own website at http://chagfordchurch.com
St. Michael's Church occupies a site probably hallowed for centuries before the construction of the present building. The commanding position of the church within an upland landscape has served as a powerful symbolic landmark for generations. Today it is still a focus for the continuity of a thousand years of community life.
The Parish Church of Chagford was dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel on 30th July 1261 by Bishop Branscombe.
The present building is mainly fifteenth century although some thirteenth century work remains. The west window, now in the tower, is thought to be the original west window of the early church. The Lady Chapel was added in 1482, and the organ chamber and sacristy were added in the nineteenth century. As a Septcentenary thanksgiving the church was refloored in granite, a ringers chamber was constructed in the tower, and the reredos and parclose screens were re-guilded. The present screen was dedicated by the Bishop of Plymouth in 1927 as a memorial to Noel Hayter-Hames. The original rood loft was put up in 1555, the same year as an altar in the chapel dedicated to St. Katherine, patron saint of tinners, where the organ (1891 - Heles of Saltash) now stands. A ring of four bells in the tower is recorded in 1537, to which further bells were added later. The whole ring of eight was recast in 1914. The bells were silenced during 2000 because of wet rot in the foundation beams of the tower below the bell frame. The restoration work, together with that of the south porch and boundary wall, was completed in one year thanks to a successful appeal which raised £58,000.
The well maintained churchyard contains many graves of historical importance and interest. The War Memorial is a Dartmoor granite cross which was formerly the Market Cross which stood in the square. Here there is a bench from which one can enjoy the excellent view across the Teign valley to the Teign gorge and Castle Drogo - arguably one of the finest of views in the country.
St. Michael's is a highly active church, being the largest church and parish within the Whiddon Parishes of Dartmoor, a benefice of six parishes (Chagford, Drewsteignton, Hittisleigh, Spreyton, Gidleigh and Throwleigh). This is served by a Rector (resident in Chagford), an Associate Priest and four Readers.
Friends of St Michaels
'The Friends' is a registered charity formed by a local group of people. Its aim is the preservation and maintenance of the fabric of St. Michael the Archangel Church which is a priceless and ancient jewel in our moorland town. It is hoped that anyone with an association with Chagford, or who enjoys the pleasure of its ancient beauty, will join us and become a 'Friend of St. Michael's' and help by regular contributions.
The church also hosts other activities - concerts by the Chagford Singers and other musical groups, performances by the Ploughshare Theatre, flower festivals - as well as the traditional festivals and seasonal services.
The local Church School of 200 pupils takes an active part in church life.
We welcome visitors to our historic church - to services on Sundays and Wednesdays - to enjoy this Grade I listed historical building. A brochure outlining the most important features is available in the church. Please feel free to seek more advice and details of the programme of church activities from the Parish Co-ordinator at the Parish Office (Monday; Wednesday; Friday 0900 - 1230) tel: 01647 432265.
The Parish Church stands a few metres from the busy market square and its worship remains the heartbeat of this vibrant community.
Photos by Jill Pendleton