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Duke opposed 1860s church restoration scheme

As previously reported the Totnes Heritage Trust has come into possession historically important documents dating back to the 1860s when St Mary's Church underwent major repairs and alterations

One of the document reports that St Mary’s Church “is at present in a sadly disfigured and mutilated state, and very much out of repair”. It continues by reporting that Sir Gilbert Scott, the architect, stated “Both externally and externally, it has lost much of its ancient magnificence by the removal of almost every stone of the window tracery”. He continues to by saying “Internally, the otherwise fine effect of the lofty arches is marred by the cumbrous and unsightly galleries and high pews which in every way are objectionable”. Sir Gilbert proposed their removal and this happened during the Victorian reordering.

The Duke of Somerset was approached for his support for the church restoration and surprisingly objected. This objection is evidenced in two letters

and in the first dated 11 February 1867 the Duke expresses his disapproval of the scheme proposed and in the second letter dated 20 March 1867 not only objects to the scheme but also refuses to be a party to an appeal letter seeking funds.

The reordering scheme proceeded without the Duke of Somerset’s support or financial contribution. The funding for the scheme appears to have come from local people. Amongst the donors were Mr R Durant who donated £200 and Mrs Pendarves who donated £300

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