Rectors and Priests of Plymtree


As described at the 750th anniversary of Johel Walerande’s appointment – 9th April 2011



Johel Walerande

Johel Walerande, a sub deacon of Exeter Cathedral was appointed Rector of Plymtree on 9th April 1261 by Bishop Walter Bronscombe during the reign of King Henry III and was presented by the Lady Albreda de Botrelle.




Less than a year after the appointment of Johel Walerande, Gundi, a priest, was appointed rector on 5th May 1262. However, by 1284 Gundi was adjudged to be wasting the goods of the church. Robert de Evesham was therefore licensed by Bishop Bronscombe to receive the income from the lands of the church and to live in the rectory. The land brought in an annual income of £5 6s 8d.


Pre 1327

William atte Pole

At some time before 1327 William atte Pole took over as rector until he died in 1335.



Gilbert de Sheptone

Sir Gilbert de Sheptone was appointed under the patronage of William de Pillaunde, Parson of Kingstone, Dorset



John de Pillaunde

John de Pillaunde also appointed by William de Pillaunde in September 1340. It was probably during his time as rector that much of the church we see today was built – the nave and the chancel.



John Tregrenewil

Sir John Tregrenwil was appointed by patron Thomas Peverell. Thomas Peverell was married to Margaret, the daughter of Sir Thomas Courtney who had been Lord of the Manor of Plymtree since 1345. He in turn was a son of the Earl of Devon. It was probably the wealth of the Courtney family, earned from the wool and cloth trade, which financed the building of the church.



Thomas Job

John Tregrenwil and Thomas Job, and James Job who followed, were typical medieval rectors who were rarely seen in the parish, except to collect tithes and rents.


James Job

It is not clear exactly when James took over but it was in 1420s probably while James Job was rector that the tower was built and three bells installed.



Robert Dunnynge

Robert Dunnynge was actually installed to the post of rector in London and it is likely that he never came to Plymtree. He was appointed by patron Catherine Peverell who married Lord Walter Hungerford.



Richard Smerte

Richard Smerte or Smart followed in June 1435. He has been described as Devon’s first musician and wrote the well-known Boar’s Head Carol. It was during his rectorship that the south aisle or Ford Aisle was added and the porch was built. In 1477 Smerte retired on an annual pension of £4 from “the fruits of the parish church”. It was a complex time in English history with the Wars of the Roses. Thomas Hungerford, Lord of Plymtree was executed for treason. The estate went into the care of John Lord Wenlock, a Yorkist killed at the Battle of Tewksbury.



William Reynye

The estate and patronage of the church passed to John Lord Dynham, a favourite of Edward IV who appointed William Reynye in 1477 and it must have been about this time that the rood screen was installed along with the pews – until that time people would have stood. One pew contains a carving of a Tudor Rose and a pomegranate – the symbols of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon in 1509.



John Lylle

The Hungerford family regained the lordship of Plymtree and John Lylle was appointed by Sir John Sachverelle, who was the second husband of Mary Lady Hungerford. It was at this time that Henry VIII broke away from the church of Rome in 1534. In 1548, Protector Somerset, in the name of the infant King Edward VI ordered the removal of papist images from churches. The cross and statues from the top of the rood screen were removed – having been there for little more than half a century, the holy water stoop in the porch was smashed as were the niches on the columns in the nave. Fortunately, the statue of the Madonna and Child on the tower and the rood screen itself were undamaged. The introduction of a Prayer Book in English led to the so called Prayer Book Rebellion in Cornwall and Devon in 1549 with fierce battles at nearby Fenny Bridges, Clyst St Mary and Exeter. It was also in 1549 that the oldest surviving bell in our tower, the fourth, was cast.



Richard Hayward

Richard Hayward was appointed by the Hungerfords. Under Queen Mary he revived catholic services until the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1558. From then on all Rectors were members of the Church of England.



James More

With the Reformation the advowson or right to appoint rectors passed to gentlemen in London. James More was their first appointee.



Henry Stephins

Henry Stephins took over after the death of James More.



Thomas Payne

Thomas Payne was rector for 55 years through the Civil War. It was during his time that the Authorized Version of the Bible, authorized by King James I appeared in churches on 2nd May 1611.



Nicholas Monk

Nicholas Monk married Suzanna, a widow and daughter of Thomas Payne. Monk was the brother of one of Oliver Cromwell’s most effective generals George Monk. Royalists used Nicholas Monk as a go between to pass messages to his brother to bring about the restoration of Charles II. Nicholas Monk went on to be Provost of Eton, Bishop of Hereford and is buried in Westminster Abbey.


Pre 1662

John Glanvill

John Glanvill became Rector before 1662 when the Book of Common Prayer was introduced. In 1678 John Glanvill signed a document recording that 32 people from Plymtree gave 18s 1d to the fund for rebuilding St Paul’s Cathedral after the Fire of London.



Richard Long

Richard Long was appointed by Mr Thomas Trosse, the son of Suzanna Monk and her first husband.



Roger Eveleigh

Roger Eveleigh was appointed by Mr Thomas Trosse.



Mathew Mundye

King James II became patron and appointed Mathew Mundye. It was during this time that John Land left his bequest to Plymtree to buy Communion plate and a velvet cushion for the pulpit. The Land family came from Woodbeer and John made his fortune in London and from his associations with Child’s Bank to whom he leased a property called Marygold at No 1 Fleet Street. The silver is still in our possession and the gold lettering was transferred from the cushion in 1890 to make a pulpit fall. Mathew Mundye collected the items from London and claimed £1 17s 9d for his expenses.

During his time a gallery was installed at the back of the church for musicians and choir in 1719.

The cast iron clock frame was probably installed between 1680 & 1710



Matthew Mundy

Matthew Mundy, son of Mathew Mundye, was appointed in 1736 until he died in 1759.



James Beaver

Oriel College bought the advowson from Mathew Mundye in 1737 for £900. This was to provide livings for Oriel’s married fellows. However, Rector James Beaver lived in Oxford. Oriel College officially retains the patronage of Plymtree to this day, although with joint benefices and mission communities the responsibilities for the appointment process are complex.



John Fleming

John Fleming served for 18 years until his death in1796. During his time the present clock was installed in the tower.



Daniel Veysie

Daniel Veysie served until his death in 1817. There is a memorial to him in the chancel.



Edward Holwell

Edward Offspring Holwell was appointed in 1817 and in 1820 sued the owners of Greenend and Sanguishayes and other landowners for non-payment of their tithes amounting to about £200 a year. The case lasted 10 years and was decided in favour of the rector with the defendants left to pay costs of £1948 9s 9d



Joseph Dornford

Joseph Dornford was of a high church tradition. He was by all accounts a big handsome man who introduced carved woodwork around the altar and small pieces of stained glass in the windows. Records show that Parish Vestry meetings were “tumults” and candlesticks disappeared from the altar and the rector’s garden was vandalised. It was because of this dissatisfaction with this state of affairs that a decision was taken to build a non-conformist chapel at Norman’s Green, which opened on Good Friday, 18th April 1851.

One of Joseph Dornford’s ambitions was to drive a pair of good horses from Rectory to Exeter Cathedral within an hour – his record was 62 minutes!



Thomas Mozley

Joseph Dornford died in 1868 and was succeeded by Thomas Mozley. Thomas Mozley’s wife was Harriet, a sister of Cardinal John Newman. Thomas Mozley is widely accepted as the “Boswell of Newman” and recorded much important information about the John Newman who is now in the process of becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Thomas Mozley was a leader writer for the Times newspaper and when he came to Plymtree he continued with this practice. He would drive, by horse and carriage, to Ottery Road Station (which changed to Sidmouth Junction in 1874 and is now Feniton), where he would find the topic for his article which was sent down on the railway telegraph. He rented a room at the nearby Railway Hotel, now the Nog Inn, where he wrote his article which was sent back to London on 5pm train. The leader appeared in the paper the next day. Harriet, his wife was a notable children’s author, her books included The Fairy Bower and The Lost Brooch. Thomas and Harriet obviously had a deep concern for the welfare and education of children. He paid £1600 to build and equip a school and master’s house in Plymtree and to pay the wages of the teachers. The school opened in February 1873 under headmaster Edwin Gale with 44 pupils.



Fowler Blogg

Fowler Babington Blogg was rector for three years. He was born in Madras in India, the son of an army officer.



Arthur Mozley

Arthur Mozley, brother of Thomas, took over in 1883 and continued his brother’s support for the school. It was in 1883 that the first organ was presented to Plymtree in memory of another Mozley brother who lived in Derby and was called Charles, who incidentally had married another sister of John Newman, called Jemima.



George Gutteres

George Gutteres took over after the death of Arthur Mozley and he started repairs to the church including strengthening the tower and he began the Parish Magazine. He played County Cricket for Hampshire against Somerset in Taunton in August 1882. He died whilst on holiday in Algiers. The ancient preaching cross by the porch was later discovered buried in the church house and rectory. It was re-erected and dedicated to the memory of George Gutteres on Ascension Day 1899.



Edgar Hay

Before his trip to Algiers Gutteres had arranged to swap rectorship with Edgar Hay from Suffolk. Edgar Hay undertook the completion of repair work started by Gutteres. Walls were stabilised and the floors relaid. On 10th August 1911, the original medieval thatched Rectory which stood opposite the church where Green End House now stands was burnt down. A new rectory was built in brick on higher and drier land. He was rector until 1929 and when he died in 1950 he was buried in the churchyard.



Humphrey Onslow

Humphrey Cedric Onslow was rector from 1929 through the years of World War II and supported children evacuated to the parish. He died in February 1948 and the lych gate was restored in his memory.



Crichton McDouall

Crichton Willoughby McDouall came from New Zealand and he and his wife were missionaries in China for 40 years and were imprisoned by the Japanese there for over 3 years. He retired to Dorset in 1953 and his grave is in our churchyard.



Gilderoy Davison

Gilderoy Davison came to Plymtree in January 1954 from Brocking in Essex. He was a well-known author of crime fiction novels but he died in May of the same year. His grave, too, is in the churchyard.



John Steele

In August 1954, John Durno Steele became rector. He had previously ministered in the Falkland Islands.



Rufus Edwards

Rufus Edwards, who was always known by his initials RIN, became rector in 1963. He also taught at the Cathedral School and was fluent in many languages and helped in the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was responsible for acquiring the church’s present organ and a plaque by the organ records this fact. After his retirement he continued to live in Green End Lane until his death in 1985.



George Ridding

George Ridding was the first person to be rector of the joint benefice of Broadhembury, Payhembury and Plymtree. He resided in the parsonage in Broadhembury and consequently the Rectory and its land in Plymtree were sold. George was a former headmaster at West Buckland School and he and his wife Elsie had also been missionaries in Malaysia.



Alan Roberts

Alan Roberts took over in 1989 after the retirement of George Ridding. Having served as an officer in nuclear submarines, Alan came to Plymtree from Birmingham and remained until his retirement in 2006. He was the last person to hold the title of “Rector of Plymtree”.



Simon Crittall

With the creation of mission communities, parish groupings underwent change and in 2007 Simon Crittall was appointed as Priest in Charge of Broadhembury and Plymtree, a post which he combined with the role of Exeter Diocesan Ecumenical Officer.



Judith Wright

In 2010 it was decided to work towards the creation of a Cullompton Mission Community including the parishes of Cullompton, Bradninch and Plymtree. On 8th March 2011, Judith Wright was licensed as part-time priest with pastoral responsibility for Bradninch and Plymtree – the first woman in 750 years! She was previously a nurse and midwife.

422016Rik PeckhamThe creation of a Cullompton Mission Community did not come to fruition and in 2016 it was agreed that Plymtree should become the sixth member of the Dunkeswell Mission Community. The Revd Rik Peckham, team rector of the mission community, was licensed as priest in charge of Plymtree on 15 July 2016 by the Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton.  On 1 January 2017 the new benefice of Broadhembury, Dunkeswell, Luppitt, Plymtree, Sheldon and Upottery came into being with Rik Peckham as its first Rector.  
John Hayhoe
Following the retirement of Rik Pekham in July 2017, the Revd John Hayhoe was appointed.  He was instituted by the Right Revd Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, at a service in Broadhembury on 20th December 2017.  John Hayhoe was formerly a major in the Grenadier Guards and for the previous 11 years had served as vicar of the parish of Geraldine in the diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand