Church of our Lady, Upton Pyne

The Church of Our Lady is at the heart of Upton Pyne village (the setting of Jane Austen’s novel, “Sense and Sensibility”), just a few miles outside of Exeter.   The church was consecrated by Bishop Grandisson in 1328. An earlier church was mentioned in 1283, of which there are no identifiable remains other than an old stone cross in the churchyard which pre-dates the present church and thus […]

The Church of Our Lady is at the heart of Upton Pyne village (the setting of Jane Austen’s novel, “Sense and Sensibility”), just a few miles outside of Exeter.  

The church was consecrated by Bishop Grandisson in 1328. An earlier church was mentioned in 1283, of which there are no identifiable remains other than an old stone cross in the churchyard which pre-dates the present church and thus may have belonged to the earlier one. The tower along with centre and south aisles were built c. 1380. The church underwent a substantial restoration in 1875, including a complete renovation of the roof among several other works. 

The tower is 50 feet high and, like the walls of the church, is built of the local volcanic trap rock. Under the pinnacles at the four corners of the tower are figures of the four Evangelists: St Matthew at the south-west, St Mark at the north-east, St Luke at the south-east and St John at the north-west. The niche over the west door contains a figure of Christ, blessing the people that enter the church. 

Flakes of paint found on the statues on the tower during recent conservation work revealed that the figures were likely to have been carved in the Exeter cathedral workshops during the 1380’s.  These sculptures, although now rather worn, contribute to the Grade I status of the church.