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.

After careful and prayerful consideration Plymtree became the sixth parish of the Dunkeswell Mission Community in 2016.  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 2011 census recorded the population of the parish as 624 with all age groups well represented..

The manor of Plymtree predates Domesday. The present Church of St John the Baptist has visible Saxon origins and most of the present structure is medieval . 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.
  • The present organ 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.
  • The church is generally in a good state of repair. New heating and lighting were installed in 2011.

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. 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 of nearly 20 to a full church for special events such as Christmas carols, Harvest and Mothering Sunday.
  • There are 38 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 www.plymtree.org.uk/st-john-the-baptist
  • Special events are planned by the PCC and are well supported by the community; eg fund raising harvest supper etc. .
  • 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

  • There are 70+ pupils in 4 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 is 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.

Other village organisations and events include:

  • The United Reformed Church.
  • Plymtree Parish Council
  • Pre – School
  • Toddler Group
  • After 8 Club (Formerly the Plymtree Women’s Institute)
  • Gardening Club
  • Cricket Club
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Netball Club
  • The annual Plymtree Country Fayre