The church is a beautiful, medieval parish church, which sits upon a steep bluff next to the Mill Pool. It is reached by Church Walk, a picturesque cobbled path that connects with Paignton Road. The church is normally open for visitors during daylight hours. A warm welcome awaits visitors who wish to join us at one of our regular services of worship.
There was already a church at Stoke Gabriel at the time of the Norman Conquest and its existence is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The church was originally dedicated to St Gabriel in about 1276 but was rededicated jointly to St Mary and St Gabriel in 1846 shortly before it underwent major restoration and refurbishment.
The tower is older than the rest of the church and dates from the 13th Century. The original nave, the main body of the church, fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in the 15th Century. At the same time, the font, pulpit and rood screen were added. The appearance of the interior owes much to the Victorians, who in 1856/57 gave the church a new roof, windows and a new floor, which was elevated in the chancel and in particular the sanctuary. They also installed new pews and an organ, added a vestry and south porch, and rebuilt the lychgate.
The church contains many memorial tablets, windows and gifts indicative of the social history of the area and the generosity of the parishioners.
The churchyard surrounds the church and has fine views over the mill pool and the River Dart with plenty of south-facing benches for people to rest, contemplate or simply enjoy the views. There are many fine headstones commemorating members of local families, including the Pomeroy and Churchward families. The churchyard also contains a yew tree about 800 or more years old. A traditional rhyme claims to provide a way in which wishes can be fulfilled:
“Walk ye backward round about me
seven times round for all to see;
Stumble not and then for certain
one true wish will come to thee.”
To find out more, visit the church website: