Christ Church, in North Brentor, one mile to the north-east of St. Michael’s, was until 1880 in the parish of Lamerton. It is chapel-of-ease to the parish church, which is still St. Michael’s, Brent Tor (Christ Church is an easier church for congregation and clergy to get to and use, especially in foul weather and the winter months). The district of West Blackdown, in the parish of Mary Tavy, was added to the Brentor parish in 1881.
In 1825, a small chapel-of-ease was reportedly constructed in North Brentor, but no trace now survives – with the possible exception of the single bell hung in Christ Church. In 1843, however, a certain Isabella Holwell (then owner of the property now known as Bonnaford), made a bequest in her will towards building a new chapel. She died, aged fifty, in Brentor the following year. This new chapel, known as Christ Church, was started in 1856 (the delay is not explained, possibly additional sources of funding were required). The church was built by Richard Gosling of Torquay, at a cost of £1,003, and was consecrated on 24th September 1857 by Bishop Phillpotts.Between 1931 and 1936, the church was restored and refurbished in oak. At this time, the altarpiece and the picture in the Children’s Corner were painted (by Christopher Webb and Ernest Heasman, respectively). In 1934, electric lighting was installed, and then in 1947 the walls were stripped of the original plaster and pointed.
The chapel of ease may have been more popular than intended, judging by these press reports from the Tavistock Gazette in the 1880s……..
The church is built in the perpendicular style, with chancel, nave and embattled west tower with a clock, made in 1863 and installed in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The additional dial on the west face was added in 1947. There is a single bell in the tower, recovered from the original chapel of ease.The altarpiece portrays the Virgin Mary and the Child Christ, and is in the form of a tryptich, with the Wise Men and the Shepherds on either side of the main panel. Opposite the door is the Children’s Corner, with a painting in tempora, a display table and books. At the rear of the church is a modestly sized organ, on either side of which are truncated pews, and behind which is the access to the tower. The tapestry kneelers date to 1964, and were locally worked to designs by Lysbeth Gallup.
Brentor was first a chaplaincy, and then a perpetual curacy, so there is no record of clerical institutions. The parish registers only go back to 1720, but some earlier names can be gleaned from the Diocesan Archives. In addition, the recent innovation of the combined benefice means that the parish has been frequently without a resident curate, clergy being shared with the neighbouring parishes of Lydford, Mary Tavy and Sourton.The first Chaplain of Brentor mentioned by name is Geoffrey Aleyn, who was involved in a scandal recorded by Bishop Stafford in the early fifteenth century. Aleyn had celebrated in the church of Milton Abbot the secret marriage of Robert Martyn and Englesia, the daughter of John Toker. He was absolved of his part on submission, in January 1412, but his colleague Roger Damarl, rector of Mary Tavy, was excommunicated for his part in the marriage. Since 2009 Brentor shares clergy with Tavistock.
Churchwardens – Kate Kelly (01822) 810287 and David Harris (01822) 810846, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.