History

Statue of St Disen

Statue of St Disen

Originally dedicated to St Denis, the parish Church of Bradninch became more popularly known as St Disen’s in the later 19th century.  The date of the church’s foundation is unknown although in 1208 King John granted the Lord of the Manor of Bradninch the right to hold a fair on St Denis’ Day (9th October) and the three days preceding.  The present building, however, is mainly 15th and 16th century in date.  The church was partially rebuilt in 1841 when the nave and aisles were heightened but the nave roof dates from further restoration that took place in the 1889.

Within the church, stretching across the nave is a wooden screen dating from the 15th/16th century.  Its  painted panels include depictions of the temptation of Eve, the Annunciation, the Christ Child and 12 sibyls, Greek and Roman prophetesses who foretold the great mysteries of the Christian Faith.  On the back of the screen is a Latin inscription taken from the Psalms and dated 1528.  The lovely crucifixion scene above the screen was erected in 1961.  Within the Lady or St George’s Chapel is a smaller screen bearing paintings of St Michael, St George and the Dragon, St Christopher and St Francis of Assisi.

On the other side of the chancel is the organ.  An organ was first installed in the church in 1842 in a gallery under the tower.  It was moved to the north side of the chancel in 1880 where it was rebuilt in 1889.

The pulpit, pews and choir stalls are also 19th century in date as is all the stained glass.  The latter, however, are not without interest.  The Resurrection Window above the altar was designed by a local parishioner, Sarah Yeatman in memory of her parents while the window in the south wall was donated by American Congressman George West in memory of his mother, Jane West who is buried in the churchyard.  George West is one of our American links.  On the north side of the church are the flags of Great Britain and the United States of America which frame a plaque in memory of the Boone family who emigrated to America in 1717 and in particular of Daniel Boone, another of our American links.

The Royal Arms above the Tower Screen at the back of the church commemorate the visit of King Edward VIII in 1936 and the small statue of St Disen near the door was carved by local farmer, Jim Vallis.

The tower, which houses 8 bells, is best appreciated from the churchyard, is about 80ft high and dates from the 15th century.  Between the church and the path leading down to the main entrance is a freestanding 15th century cross on the left hand side of the path.  The cross, which was restored in the mid 19th century, was probably erected as a station for outdoor processions.  A plaque on the railings adjacent to the gates commemorates one of our American links, Squire Boone who was baptised in the church on Christmas Day 1696.