St Clement

The mother church of Dartmouth and standing some 350ft above the main town on the narrow tract which, since ancient times, has been a right-of-way from the coast through Longcross to the River Dart crossing at Hardnesse.

About this church

It was built before any of the land reclamation had started in the lower town when most people who lived around this area were based in “Tunstal” as it was referred to in the Domesday Book. Townstal means “walled enclosure on the hill.”

The church is first mentioned in 1198 in deeds relating to its being given as a ‘gift’ to the Chapter of the newly-founded Abbey of Torre by Tunstal’s Lord, William FitzStephen for “the welfare of his soul and Isabel his wife”. But the real reason for the ‘gift’ was that the Premonstratensians, who ran the Abbey, had been instrumental in securing the release of Richard the Lionheart from captivity in Central Europe following his rather unsuccessful involvement in the Third Crusade. The Premonstatensians made the most of their new network of churches and, by the middle of the 16th century, Torre Abbey was one of the wealthiest in the order.  The connection with the Abbey continued right up until Henry VIII came along and dissolved the monasteries.

Torre’s final Abbot was Simon Reede. Aware of what was happening, he became St Clement’s vicar just months before the dissolution and remained there until his death. He probably enjoyed life as he took a payment from the crown to become vicar of £66 13s and 4d or more than £20,000 today.

The church has many distinguishing features and its altar is unique. It is made from wood and is covered in beautiful carvings and dates from the 17th century and the reign of James I.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • On street parking at church
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

DevonDARTMOUTHStSaviour(internetarchivebookimagesPUBLICDOMAIN)1

St Saviour

Gazing across the River Dart from Kingswear, you can see the ancient church of St Saviour.

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St Petrox

St Petrox church at the mouth of the river is the oldest of the three parish churches, the earliest reference being in 1192 when it is thought to have been referred to in a deed as the 'monastery of St Peter'.

St Mary & St Gabriel

In a picturesque setting, the Grade I listed parish church is located on a steep bluff in the centre of the village at the end of a cobbled stone walk.

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