St Mary & St Benedict, Buckland Brewer
The Church of St. Mary and St. Benedict is a Grade 2* listed building and is the third to have stood on the site. The original date of the building is uncertain but it is likely to have been in the twelfth century. Records state that it was totally destroyed by fire except for the Norman arch which then formed - as it still does - the main entrance to the church on the south side.
The church was completely rebuilt in about 1399 and then again in 1879. The Norman arch is well preserved, as is some of the carving over the church entrance to the vestry although defaced by some of Cromwell’s men. Apart from these the oldest surviving parts of the church are the Orleigh Chapel on the north side and the bulk of the tower.
The ancient schoolroom retains the original stonework of its window arches and it is sometimes said to have been a chapel dedicated to St. Stephen. There are several memorials and monuments in the main body of the church and in the Orleigh Chapel.
There is a peal of six bells (cast in the village by Taylors of Loughborough and London) and these are rung by a team who practise regularly and encourage teenagers to learn the ancient skill. The bells are of such quality that visiting teams travel from long distances to ring them. The bell frame was recently restored to replace items of corroded steelwork. The modest organ (a Caissons Patent) was restored in 1993 and there are a number of organists in the village.
A very committed group of church members have ensured that the fabric is generally in sound condition throughout and in recent years work has been done on the tower, windows and heating as well as a complete restoration of the schoolroom. Sadly this group of stalwarts is now ageing and younger recruits are being encouraged to take over.