OUR CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS
Although dedicated to All Saints, a tradition exists that the original dedication was to Thomas Becket. The building is mainly 14th and 15th century, although the Chancel seems to date from the end of the 12th or early 13th century as it was extensively repaired between 1307 and 1314. The architect Gould's plans which hang in the Gidley Chapel (south transept) and prepared when the Church was restored in 1873, indicate his estimate of the dates of the various parts of the building.
There is a record of the Incumbents since 1202, and this hangs near the south door, and there would have been an unknowable number before that as the site has been a place of worship well before that. The first listed is Serlo who later became Dean of Exeter, and he was followed by William de Molendinis who was also the Treasurer of Exeter Cathedral.
In March 1826, the 83 year old "Printing Parson" was appointed, though he died in June the following year. He had previously been the Vicar of Lustleigh, and it was while there that he had preached a series of sermons on the Virtues and Vices of Mankind, which he proceeded to print and bind with his own hands. He constructed a press and bought an old set of type, and after many years of labour, he completed 26 volumes. There were only 14 copies of each, and one set is held in the Cathedral Library. At his own request, he is buried in the Chancel.
The Chancel is the oldest part of the Church. The eastern window, perpendicular of three lights, in stained glass by the London firm of Clayton & Bell, and is in memory of Revd John Fisher Turner, who was Vicar of Winkleigh from 1852 until his death on 1st December 1871. The elaborately carved Reredos and heavy oak Altar with eight legs supporting an Altar Slab of stone cut with five crosses according to the pious custom of our forefathers, were the gift of the Revd W Radford of Down St Mary and a friend of Mr Pinckard. Another window in the south wall of the Chancel, a single lancet of the 13th century, of stained glass showing a figure of St Peter with the Keys, is inscribed to the memory of the Revd Henry Wright, 27 years Vicar, who died in 1856.
The north Transept or Loudon Aisle is 15th century and now used as the Lady Chapel. It has a flat roof, battlements parapet, and two grotesque gargoyles. The small south Transept, known as the Bittbear Aisle or Gidley Chapel, is a burial Chapel of the Gidley family, and was built by that family's most famous representative, Bartholomew, who was born in 1611 and a loyal supporter of Charles I throughout the Civil War. Outside, above the window of the south wall is a sundial bearing the inscription "Life's but a shadow, Man's but dust, This Dyall says, Dy all wee must".
The tower dates from the 14th century, and its base is some 550 feet (250 metres) above sea level, and the view from the top is magnificent The clock, part of the restoration funded by the Pinckard family, was made by Funnells of Brighton, and is a fine example of their work. The Westminster chimes were added in 1933. The peal of 8 bells were all cast at Whitechapel, and were part of the Pinckard restoration in early 1870s. Parish Records date, for Marriages and for Burials, from 1569, while those for Baptism date from 1585. All are held in the North Devon Record Office in Barnstaple.
19th century restoration
The Church has been extensively restored twice since 1870. The first, when the building had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair, was carried out mainly as a result of the generosity of George Pinckard, then resident at Coombe Court, Witley in Surrey, but a native of Winkleigh. It is commemorated by a stained galss window on the south side of the nave, and a brass tablet and bust at the tower arch. The restoration was planned by Mr R D Gould, a Barnstaple architect. The Pinckard family also made many other gifts including the rich pulpit of Derby alabaster, a very fine organ by Hill, the clock, and completion of the octave in the tower. The Church was re-opened in 1873.
20th century restoration
The tragic death in 1975 of Robert Luxton of West Chapple Farm, whose family had for many years been connected with their parish Church, resulted in a very generous bequest to the Vicar and Churchwardens for the "…..repairing, enlarging, altering, furnishing and equipping of the said Church and in improving and maintaining the surroundings thereof…"
The work, carried out by various local firms and craftsmen, was planned and directed by Mr W T R McMillan-Scott, RIBA of Okehampton.