Bere Ferrers

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Bere Ferrers
Bere Ferrers - - 39065.jpg
Bere Ferrers leading down to the River Tavy
Bere Ferrers is located in Devon
Bere Ferrers
Bere Ferrers
 Bere Ferrers shown within Devon
Population 3,066 (2001)
OS grid reference SX4563
Civil parish Bere Ferrers
District West Devon
Shire county Devon
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PL20
Dialling code 01822
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Torridge and West Devon
List of places

Coordinates: 50°27′03″N 4°10′34″W / 50.45097°N 4.17621°W / 50.45097; -4.17621

Bere Ferrers, sometimes called Beerferris, is a village and civil parish on the Bere peninsula in West Devon in the English county of Devon. It has a population of 3,066,[1] and is located to the north of Plymouth, on the west bank of the River Tavy. Bere Ferrers railway station on the Tamar Valley Line is nearby.

Parish church[edit]

Beer Ferrers Church of St Andrew, viewed from NW

The church of St Andrew has the oldest stained-glass window in Devon, excepting Exeter Cathedral; it is 600 years old. The building was probably built at various times between 1290 and 1340; it is recorded that an archpresbytery was founded here in 1333 and the north transept appears to be the earliest part of the church while the south aisle is the latest, perhaps 15th century.

Features of interest include the Norman font, an unusual altar stone, benches having benchends carved with traceried arches, and an early medieval monument to a knight and lady (probably of the Ferrers family, Latinised as Ferrariis). In the church are two other monuments: another recess with effigy of a knight, and a tomb chest of the 1520s, perhaps for Robert Willoughby, 2nd Baron Willoughby de Broke (d. 1521/2).[2] The church saw the death, in 1821, of the antiquarian draughtsman Charles Alfred Stothard who was killed on falling while making a tracing from a window: his tombstone is in the churchyard.

Heraldic bench ends[edit]

Heraldic Oak bench ends, late 15th century, St. Andrew's Church, Bere Ferrers. 19th-century drawing by Roscoe Gibbs
Heraldic bench ends, Bere Ferrers

The church contains late 15th-century oak pews with ornately carved bench ends. Two of these are of especially fine work and interest as they are carved with heraldic escutcheons of Ferrers and Willoughby families.[3] Each is at the outer end of the central row of pews closest to the chancel. That on the north side shows a bend charged with 4 horseshoes (fer-de-cheval), being the canting arms of Ferrers, overlaid by 3 ship's rudders in bend sinister, the badge of the Willoughby family, inherited from Cheyne, as evidenced by an appearance on the earlier Cheyne tomb at Edington Priory, Wiltshire. Further rudders are shown in the field, one in base, 1 in sinister. That on the south side shows the arms of Willoughby de Broke, quartered as on the tomb of Robert Willoughby, 1st Baron Willoughby de Broke (d.1502) at Callington, Devon, with some details omitted in the wood-carving. The full blazon is: Quarterly, 1st grand quarter quarterly, 1st and 4th a cross crosslet double crossed [4] 2nd and 3rd a cross moline; (Willoughby) 2nd grand quarter, a cross fleurie (Latimer) 3rd grand quarter, 4 fusils in fess each charged with an escallop (Cheyne) 4th grand quarter, a chevron within a bordure engrailled (Stafford).

Heraldic roof-bosses[edit]

Roof of south porch, St.Andrew's Church. The lantern hangs at the northern end before the church door.

The junctions of the oak beams of the ceiling of the south porch are embellished with several oak bosses, some of which display carved armorials of the ancestral families of Willoughby, as shown within the bench-end escutcheons, namely Ferrers, Latimer and Cheyne. Also shown here are the arms of the Gorges family of Knighton, Isle of Wight and Wraxall, Somerset,[5] from a co-heiress of which the Cheyney's were descended, blazoned as Argent, a gurges azure. A gurges is a form of canting arms, being Latin for a whirlpool, depicted as a whorl.


  • Rogers, W.H. Hamilton, The Strife of the Roses and Days of the Tudors in the West, Exeter, 1890, pp. 1–36, Willoughby de Broke

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : West Devon Retrieved 29 January 2010
  2. ^ Pevsner, N. (1952) South Devon. Penguin Books; pp. 47–48
  3. ^ Rogers, pp.32–3
  4. ^ The cross crosslet double crossed can be seen clearly on the tomb of Robert Willoughby, 1st Baron Willoughby de Broke at Callington Church, Cornwall. It was mis-drawn and mis-blazoned as a cross engrailled by Rogers. The Bere Ferrers bench ends, where perhaps the wood disallows great detail in carving, shows not a cross crosslet but rather a thick plain cross
  5. ^ The senior branch of the Gorges family, distant relatives of the Gorges of Wraxall, married the heiress of the Foliot family of Tamerton Foliot, almost directly across the River Tavy from Bere Ferrers

External links[edit]