The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History

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Updated:  20 May 2011 

Ancient Parish Churches are those that were already parish churches before the creation of the Church of England by King Henry VIII in the middle of the 16th century and thus have seen both Roman Catholic and Church of England clergy and services.

The earliest documentary evidence of the the churches that existed in the Plymouth area is in the list compiled by HM King Edward I between 1288 and 1291 because Pope Nicholas IV had granted him the tenths, or Great Tithes,  for six years in order to financially reward him for one of his crusades to the Holy Land.  As a result of that survey we know that the following benefices existed by 1291:

All except Stoke Damerel Parish Church, which had a Rector from 1381 onwards rather than a Vicar, were initially served by priests from Plympton Priory until the Prior appointed his own Vicars.

The Parish Church of Plymouth, Saint Andrew's, had several private chapels, or chapels-of-ease, within its district (in alphabetical order):

  • Chapel of Saint Budoc, Saint Budeaux (until created a parish church in its own right in 1482);
  • Chapel of Saint Katherine upon the Hoe;
  • Chapel of Saint Lawrence, East Stonehouse; and
  • Chapel of Saint Pancras, Weston Peverel.

Only the Church of Saint Budoc/Saint Budeaux qualifies as an Ancient Parish Church because it was created a parish prior to the creation of the Church of England.

The remaining Church of England churches and chapels are dealt with under Anglican Churches.


  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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