The font in St. Mary’s parish church, Bideford.

There is little doubt that the Font in St Mary’s Church is the oldest artefact in Bideford.

It has been expertly confirmed that it dates from about the year 1080, and it has been described as an exceptionally fine and unique example of any font in this country.

It has a massive bowl of local stone, the top being divided into eight panels surrounded by twisted cables. Only the three largest panels are carved and the centre one contains a Greek cross. In those days the stonemason responsible for this treasure would never have imagined how long his piece of craftsmanship would have survived.

In common with many other churches which suffered at the hands of Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War it is said that this font was thrown out of the Church and used as an animal trough.

One only wonders just how many people have been baptised in this font down through the ages, including the North American Indian brought by Sir Richard Grenville in 1588.   The Font is still in regular use – in 2012 there were 60 baptisms, and to date 41 in 2013.

Mike Davy.


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