St John the Baptist Church, Plymtree

 

St Johns Plymtree

Introduction

The delightful village of Plymtree is located amidst productive farmland in East Devon close to the border with Mid Devon. In 1982 Plymtree became part of a united benefice with Broadhembury and Payhembury. More recently an attempt to create a Mission Community with Bradninch and Cullompton was abandoned when Cullompton was permitted to be a stand-alone parish.

After careful and prayerful consideration Plymtree decided in 2015 that the way forward would be to rejoin with Broadhembury as part of the Dunkeswell Mission Community. Although Plymtree lies outside the Blackdown Hills, which include the other five parishes, the hills are clearly visible from many parts of the parish.

The parish looks forward to developing as part of a larger Mission Community.

In his “Book of Plymtree” published in 1999, Tony Eames stated that Plymtree is not on the road to anywhere else, if someone comes here it is because they mean to or because they are lost. In the introduction to his book, Tony Eames asked the question, What makes the village so wonderful? His answer was, and still is, the people who live here. He goes on to explain that possibly a third were born in or near the parish, the others having chosen Plymtree as their home. Accommodating and friendly, Plymtree people welcome incomers who are prepared to take their part in keeping the village alive without imposing their will on others. The parish is as a whole supportive of anyone in difficulty, is generous towards charities far beyond its size, and constantly demonstrates the traditional, cooperative nature of English village life at its best.

The 2011 census recorded the population of the parish as 624. The breakdown is as follows:

0 – 14 years – 115

15-24 years – 65

25 – 39 years – 75

40 – 49 years – 97

50 – 64 years – 174

65 – 74 years – 62

75+ – 36

Total population: 624

The figures show that 29% of the parish is under 24 years old and 56% under 50 years. Only 16% is over 65.
The manor of Plymtree predates Domesday. The present Church of St John the Baptist dates from 14th century and replaced a much earlier structure. The first rector was appointed in April 1261 and the 750th anniversary of this event was marked in 2011. The church was included in Simon Jenkins’ book “England’s Thousand Best Churches”, published in 1999 and in Todd Gray’s “Devon’s Fifty Best Churches” in 2011. Also within the parish are a United Reformed Church, Church of England Primary School, Community Shop with Post Office, Public House, Village Hall and Recreation Ground. The houses of the village range from traditional Devon thatched cottages and farmhouses to more recent houses or bungalows built in small or individual developments.

The Church Building

The Church visitors’ book includes many comments about the beauty, tranquility, peace and atmosphere of the church building, whether visiting for worship or more casually. Amongst the characteristics of the church are:

• A listed beautiful medieval building with tower and unusual Tudor windows to the north.
• Carved medieval rood screen complete with original paintings on the panels.
• Many of the wooden pews have medieval carved ends. There is seating for about 100 without additional chairs.
• There is an organ which was installed in 1979 and is used regularly in worship, supplemented by the use of pre-recorded CDs.
• The outside of the tower includes a rare statue of the Madonna and Child, which was restored in 1989 and consequently won the John Betjeman Award from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
• There are six bells in the tower which are rung on special occasions by our team of ringers.
• Over the last five years a work programme included rewiring of the church with the installation of new heating and lighting, refurbishment of the bells and clock and interior redecoration.

The Church Fellowship

• In recent years there has been one service on each Sunday. Each month this has included two Eucharists, based on Common Worship, Morning Prayer from Common Worship and a more informal Family Service with an occasional Family Communion.
• Most services use hymns from Anglican Hymns Old and New, Mission Praise, Junior Praise or Ancient & Modern New Standard. There are NIV Bibles in the pews and at the lectern. The Church recognises the need to provide worship which meets a variety of backgrounds.
• Lay people participate in worship by leading services, taking prayers, providing music, reading lessons, preaching, distributing the wine at communion, flower arranging and planning services.
• The attendance at services varies from an average 20 including children to a full church for special events such as Christmas carols, Harvest and Mothering Sunday.
• There are 40 parishioners on the church electoral roll.

• A monthly Parish Magazine is produced by the Church and includes news from the Church, the URC and other village activities. There is also a Church page on the Village website.
• There are informal groups which meet for fellowship at various times. Two courses following the Pilgrim Course have run recently. Special events are planned by the PCC and are well supported by the community; eg fund raising barn dance, harvest supper etc. .
• A proportion of all income is allocated to selected charities
• The Church is the centre of the community and is often full at weddings and funerals. Baptisms are also well attended Additional information about the church is available at www.acny.co.uk and about the village at www.plymtree.org.uk

Plymtree Church of England Primary School

• In 2015 there were 70 pupils in 3 classes. Plymtree School is part of a federation with Kentisbeare and Culmstock.
• The whole school meets for worship in the Parish Church on Thursday mornings and has been supported by the priest.
• The Christian ethos has been well established at the heart of school life.
• The Governing Body is drawn from the whole Federation and there is an opportunity for Church representation on the body. There are numerous opportunities to contribute to the life of the school and the families it represents.

Village Life and Organisations

The vibrant community life is one thing that is frequently mentioned. The village Community Shop with Post Office along with the Blacksmith’s Arms are in the centre of the village. The village’s Parish Hall and Recreation Ground are well used for social and sporting events. Adjacent to the Parish Church are three flats for local people and are maintained by the Plymtree Charities Trust. The recently refurbished “Vestry Room” is part of the Charities’ building and provides toilet and kitchen facilities for the church as well as a room for small meetings, including the PCC. This has also been used for young people’s and Sunday School meetings.

Other village organisations and events include:
• The United Reformed Church.
• Plymtree Parish Council
• 1st Plymtree Brownie Pack
• Pre – School
• Toddler Group
• After 8 Club (Formerly the Plymtree Women’s Institute)
• Gardening Club
• Cricket Club
• Community Care
• Cancer Research UK
• Netball Club
• Fitness Club
• The annual Plymtree Country Fayre
• Lent lunches different venues around the parish for Christian Aid