St Michael’s Church, Brentor


By Mark Coleman (Brentor Church HDR Uploaded by pauk) | CC BY-SA 2.0 | Wikimedia Commons

You cannot miss the iconic and striking image of St Michael’s Church perched atop Brentor, just four miles north of Tavistock. As you drive along, it is easy to spot the unmistakable 13th century church standing 334m high on a volcanic outcrop. Around Brentor are Iron Age earthworks, the remnants of a Hill fort.

Local legend reveals the church was built as a gift of gratitude to God. A wealthy merchant came safely through a particularly treacherous storm and was thankful to be alive. To show his appreciation, the merchant commissioned local tradesmen to build a church at the bottom of the hill. But each night the devil supposedly moved the church to the top.  His intention was to keep the church as far away as possible to prevent the locals from attending.

But the wealthy merchant intervened and prayed to St Michel de la Rupe (St Michael of the Rock) to help, which he did.  St Michel lay in wait, throwing large stones and boulders, to prevent the devil from venturing near the church again.

The BBC also used the churchyard in the filming of Jamaica Inn. Wikipedia shares more about its origin:

“The Church of St Michel de Rupe (“Saint Michael of the Rock“) atop the Tor dates to the 13th century, and measures 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 37 feet (11 m) long. The tower is 40 feet (12 m) high[4] and houses five bells.[5] At one point, the Church may have been used as a Beacon tower, used to spread word of enemies seen out to sea (see also Spanish Armada).”

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