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Sunday October 29th
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The Church is Honiton's second Parish Church. The original medieval Church, dedicated to St. Michael & All Angels, stands half a mile to the South, up Church Hill on the other side of the High Street and is surrounded by a very large churchyard which is still in use.
The list of rectors of Honiton goes back to 1224 and the present one is the 46th. Honiton is part of a Mission Community which embraces the nearby Parishes of Awliscombe, Buckerell, Combe Raleigh and Gittisham. Monkton's church, dedicated to St Mary Magdelene, has been declared redundant and sold privately.
St. Paul's Church was built in 1835 and was consecrated by Bishop Henry Philpotts, Bishop of Exeter, in 1838. It is built of local chert and Beer stone and was designed by ChMission Communityarles Fowler of London in the Norman style. Owing to the orientation of the site on which it stands, the Church actually lies North-South. It is 132 feet in length and 58 feet in breadth. The tower, which is a conspicuous landmark in the Otter valley, is 104 feet high and accommodates a clock made by Matthew Murch of Honiton in 1851.
The picture of the Entombment of Christ which now hangs in the narthex was a gift from the artist, William Salter, to the Church in 1838. Originally it hung over the High Altar as the engraving in the narthex shows. When the reredos was presented to the Church by the Mules family some 40 years later the picture was moved to the West wall of the Church.
The stone font was in its original position as in the engraving until the 1987 re-ordering of the Church when it was considered out of place there and so was moved to its present position in front of the reredos in the South aisle. The tower houses six bells from the belfry of the Chapel of Allhallows which stood on this site prior to the present building. To these were added two more in 1949 to bring the peal up to eight. One of the new bells was presented to the Church by Charles Parsons Slade, and the other one bears the words "An Easter gift from the people of the Church they love. 1949".
The Church has accommodated three organs since it was consecrated. Little is known of the first except that it cost £350 and was situated on the West gallery. By 1873 it must have been considered inadequate or worn out because Bishop & Son then erected their 24 stop, two manual instrument at the East end of the North gallery. This organ gave sterling service for over 125 years. In 1996 a new gallery, in the style of those already existing, was constructed across the nave and a new organ, built by Kenneth Tickell & Co of Northampton was installed here at the end of 1999. This instrument has 2 manuals and pedals with 23 speaking stops, mechanical action to the keyboards and electric stop control. All pipes are contained within the very handsome case which has an embossed pipe in the centre, reflecting Honiton's reputation as a lace town. Read more about the organs.
In 1987, following extensive work on the outside of the building involving the re-building of the parapet walls on new corbel stones and two new single sloping lead roofs on the aisles, the interior of the Church was significantly re-ordered. A raised East end and apse were levelled and the reredos, previously behind the High Altar, was re-sited in the South aisle. This made way for a generous sized sanctuary with provision for the choir to be seated behind a more centrally-placed altar.
The most recent addition to the restoration has been the choir stalls which were made to a local design and installed in 1991. The kneelers were worked by a group of ladies from thecongregation in the mid 60's. The designs were those of the leader of that group who herself had been a member of the Exeter Cathedral Guild. We never cease to point out that they are for kneeling on and not for use as footstools! At the West end of the Nave the screen, a present to St. Paul's from a redundant Church (also dedicated to St. Paul) in Exeter in 1936 was moved to its present position and a partition wall erected above it - therby creating a narthex.
In addition to the narthex, space was gained on the North side for a clergy vestry and a chapel - dedicated to the Transfiguration - which was consecrated by Bishop Hewlett Thompson, Bishop of Exeter, on the 150th Anniversary of Consecration of St. Paul's on April 24th 1988. On the southside a choir vestry, a kitchen and lavatories have been added.