St Nicholas Church is first dated to 1257 with the appointment of the first Rector (Elyas), as recorded in the Diocese Registers. The Wyger family are thought to be its initial patrons but they sold their local interests to the de Stapleton family in 1319, who, in 1332, gave them to the Priory of Frithlestock.
The basic structure of the church is little changed from 1531 when the South Aisle was added and the arcade of granite columns and arches erected.
Historic Rood Screen and Bench Ends
The church boasts some very fine bench ends – one of which usefully records the date 1529 – see image below. The elaborate rood screen is also thought to date from this time.
Example of a bench end
Section of bench end showing date of 1529
In 1870-1, the Rev Ponsford Cann (1803-1876), who had been curate since 1829 and then vicar from 1842 at Broadwoodwidger, arranged for the refurbishment of the church. It was re-opened in August 1871 and the below article lists some of the works completed.
Western Times, 18/8/1871
Further improvements from the turn of the 19th/20th centuries
The floor of the chancel was tiled in 1899 through the munificence of Charles Frederick Coryndon Luxmoore, the tithe holder, and J Hargrave of Upcott.
In 1900, monies were raised for the restoration of the Belfry and the re-hanging of the bells, several of which date from 1775.
In 1901, a new wooden pulpit, carved by John Northcott of Ashwater, was dedicated in memory of the Rev Richard Blagden, who had been vicar from 1873-1893. The matching lectern was given by his son and daughter. (see further Broadwoodwidger families – the Blagden family).
Account of the festivities after the 1900 restoration
Some of the tiling on the floor of the chancel given in 1899 by Messrs C Luxmoore, the lay impropriator, and J. Hargrave of Upcott.
1965 Church’s future threatened by death-watch beetle
1965 article recording the impact of death watch beetle and listing amongst the donors a Mr and Mrs Widger
The new barrel vault after the 1965 works
Old bosses removed during 1965 restoration of barrel vault
1978 Rehanging of bells
In 1978, the six bells needed to be rehung again, this time on a steel frame, at a cost of £6,000.