In the middle of where you’d least expect- on the fringes of a holiday park to be exact- you’ll find the hauntingly beautiful ruins of a church by the name of St Peter the Poor Fisherman at Revelstoke. Clinging to the cliff face and overlooking an azure blue sea, the ruins date all the way back to the 13th-century, and the church finds its roots in Saxon origins.
St Peter’s has since lost its roof, its walls are crumbling, and yet features of fine medieval architecture remain. Here, the term ‘juxtaposition’ is true in all senses of the word. After all, behind the church, there are plenty of modern buildings, while ahead, there’s nothing but an expanse of clear blue sea and plenty of crashing waves…
A brief history of the Church dedicated to St Peter the Poor Fisherman
Following extensive storm damage during the 1800s, the church fell into further and further disuse. And with the completion of a church in Noss Mayo by 1900, fewer parishioners had a reason to venture the several mile coastal walk to reach the once isolated church.
By 1970, the church was declared ‘redundant’ and was taken into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. That being said, occasional services are still held in the largely roofless church, open to the elements. ‘St Peter the Poor Fisherman’ is a rather unusual dedication for a church and it’s more than likely that prior to the construction of the St Peter’s Church in the 1880s, the ecclesiastical building was simply known as ‘St Peter’s’.
Visiting St Peter’s Church
The only way to reach the church is by car or on your own two feet! Either follow the coastal path from nearby Noss Mayo or drive along the narrow Devonian lanes and follow the signs for Stoke Beach. At the top of a fairly steep hill, just above the mobile home park, there’s a car park where you can leave your car to set off on various coastal paths, as well as access the church. Parking can get a little busy during the summer and so I recommend arriving earlier in the day rather than later.
Once in the car park, head down the steep road which meanders its way through housing. Although the walk is less than half a mile, the climb is steep (and takes roughly twice as long to climb back up to the car park after a wander around the church!)
Nearby, there’s a beautiful beach which makes for the perfect spot to enjoy a summer picnic. Along the way, you’ll also likely spot a phone box which has since been converted into an honesty library book exchange (take one book to enjoy, leave another for someone else to love!)
Attractions and things to see near the Church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman
Coastal walks: The South Hams is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and so there are an abundance of beautiful coastal walks to be taken in the region. Whether you want to spot some wildlife, see a quaint traditional Devonian village, or simply want to soak up some sea air, you’ll find it in South Devon. Plus, in the nearby sea, seals are often spotted and it’s not unheard of for pods of dolphins to pass by, far away from the shoreline.
Holbeton: The village of Holbeton is not far from the ever-popular beach and hamlet of Mothecombe. Lying sleepily in a quiet valley, with the exception of a gigantic church and several pubs, there is little to see in this quaint community. Instead, it’s the kind of place you could wander around for an hour or so, soaking up the ambience and admiring Holbeton’s many thatched cottages.
Noss Mayo: Pretty in pastel shades and filled with low-ceilinged fishing cottages, Noss Mayo is the hidden gem of the South Hams. Home to two pubs (of which, I highly recommend a visit to the Ship Inn!), elsewhere in the village there’s the late 19th-century church of St Peter, Revelstoke and one of the most beautiful beaches of Devon, that of Cellar Cove.
Newton Ferrers: Just across the glistening sea from Noss Mayo, the substantially larger town of Newton Ferrers is home to shops, a centuries-old church, and has easy access to plenty more coastal walks. Accessible via a long drive or short passenger ferry ride in High Season, there’s a pub and stunning views of the Yealm Estuary to be seen.