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St. Paul’s, Staverton

August 30, 2013

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I went for a ride on the South Devon Railway from Buckfastleigh to Totnes. There is one intermediate station, Staverton. On the railway’s leaflet it says; ‘take a walk along the river past the ancient packhorse bridge or up to Staverton village with its 14th century church and village inn.’ I wondered if the church was using this publicity to entice visitors. Getting off at the little station the first difficulty is no signposts or information on where to go. Having worked that out I set off to walk the half mile of so to Staverton.

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The church is easy to find as it is in the centre of the village. I found it  open. The sign board outside just mentions the service on a Sunday.

Inside there was a small information ‘bat’ with a history of the Mann family. Presumably there are some memorials in the church. There was nothing else. This is a shame as this is both an untapped potential market and doesn’t do justice to what is a lovely church which is worth a visit. There is a sense of peace and prayerfulness here. Some 12 visitors had signed the book in the last 23 days. There is a Lady Chapel set aside for prayer and a prayer book to enter intercession requests into, although there was no notice with it to indicate that this is what can be done. People had used it recently.

Some bright kneelers are displayed and there was information panels about St. Paul de Leon, which is the saint the church is dedicated to. This is a good idea.

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On my walk back to the railway I was reflecting on this visit. Some simple things would benefit this church greatly. A  poster at the station with directions and what a visitor might expect to see would be the first step. I would also look for historical links between the railway and the church. Is a former station master buried there? Or some other railway worker? A bit of research could well turn up a story to tell. Even better if this could be illustrated with some pictures. It just takes a bit of research and some imagination.

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As it is I have to rate St Paul’s as just about OK, but it could be so much better.

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