St Martin's Church, Stoney Middleton

Recent Photograph of St Martin's Church (Stoney Middleton)

The nave of the Church is octagonal in plan, built in 1759 to replace the earlier nave which was destroyed by fire in 1757. Legend has it that the first Chapel at Stoney Middleton was founded in the 15th Century by Joan Eyre, formerly Joan Padley, heiress of Padley, and wife of Robert Eyre, a minor land owner, to give thanks for his safe return from the Battle of Agincourt (1415). This building was, apparently a normal church in plan, but now only the tower survives of that original building. If the legend is true, however, its founding predates 1463, the date recorded for Joan's death - she and husband Robert (d. 1459) are commemorated on a memorial brass inside Hathersage Church.

Churches of a similar octagonal plan may be found in widely separated areas of the United Kingdom, for instance at Dreghorn, in Ayrshire, and Teignmouth, in Devon. Dreghorn was built in 1780 for the Montgomeries of Eglinton, and eight years later another octagonal church was constructed at Eaglesham, in Renfrewshire, based on a plan by the architect Robert McLachlane commissioned by the 11th Earl of Eglinton, but virtually a copy of the Dreghorn configuration. Eaglesham Church was later extended, so no longer retains the same basic plan, but Dreghorn retains its octagonal shape.

Pigot's Directory for Devon, 1823-4 declared that the one at Teignmouth (St James) was in “bad taste”.[1] It also described it as a new church, so of these three, Stoney Middleton appears to be the oldest.

[Thanks to John Loney for the information on Dreghorn and Eaglesham Churches]

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

[1] Pigot's account is recorded in full on the page for GENUKI: Teignmouth.

Image contributed by Rosemary Lockie in June 1985.
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