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The Parish of Combe Raleigh, consists of almost 80 households, including eight farms (mostly dairy), several smaller holdings, three horticultural nurseries, a boarding kennels/cattery, a school of dancing, a residential care home for the elderly (Abbeyfield group) and a small number of holiday-let or weekend properties. There are currently 22 listed architectural items in the parish, of which six buildings are grade 2 status and one grade 1.
The parish just north of Honiton, is hilly, with a mixture of agricultural fields, several woodlands, a few streams, and scattered groups of farm buildings or private dwellings. Running centrally across the parish, west to east from the church, is the main street of housing. There are few roads, only one of which (not the main street) is busy.
The village population is just under 200. People in retirement are in a majority but not overwhelmingly so. The dozen-plus village children are widely spread and are further spread between four different schools. The villagers opted, 20 years ago, to retain a separate identity from Honiton and their representative body remains as a Parish Meeting, This is still favoured by the villagers.
Apart from the church, the only village focal point is its village hall, whose committee provides many activities and functions throughout the year, from children’s Christmas parties to Burns’ Night dinners and harvest suppers. Several groups use the village hall on a regular basis.
The Electoral Roll is 25 although several people in the village donate funds towards its upkeep despite remaining outside its membership. The congregation is mainly middle aged or retired but active.
On the first Sunday of the month the main act of worship is Evensong, held at 6.30pm. On other Sundays worship commences at 11.15 am, alternating between Holy Communion and Mattins. The Book of Common Prayer continues to be used with some Common Worship. Occasionally there is a lay led service, almost always matins. Once a month there is a communion service in the Abbeyfield House which is usually led by the Team Vicar.
Average Sunday attendance is approximately fourteen. Attendance rises dramatically for Easter, Christmas (midnight mass and carol service), and on occasions such as Harvest and Mothering Sunday.
There is no other public worship building in our parish. Ecumenical involvement is exercised through the Team structure. There is nonetheless a bible study group which meets regularly in the village; this is ecumenical and lay led.
Church members try to show their faith by example of living and service within the parish’s community. Church members are instrumental in every aspect of the village life, thereby hoping that their faith in Christ will be contagious.
The church is open daily during daylight hours. This has proved to be popular and takes advantage of the great care, cleanliness and floral decoration bestowed on the building, witnessing to the vitality and confidence of its membership.
The church building is dedicated to St Nicholas. Rectors are listed since 1260, but the building dates mainly from the 15th century with a 14th century west end tower, housing three bells, one of which is 15th century. Stonework includes white Beer stone and dressed “chert”. Woodwork includes simple late Victorian or Edwardian pews, a Victorian tracker action 2-manual organ in good order and typical Devon wagon roofing supports. The building is in a good state of repair generally and the tower clock has recently been restored. The churchyard is still open for burials or internment of ashes and is well maintained.