History


St George the Martyr Dean Prior was first recorded by the Bishop in 1186 as part of the possession of the Priory of Plympton. The first known priest, Gervase of Crediton, was ordained in 1261. Of his church, however, only the West Tower and font remain. The present building was largely rebuilt in C.15th on the site of the earlier Norman Church.


The early West Tower has a central polygonal stair-turret on the south side, with bell openings and an embattled parapet. The red sandstone Norman font is intricately carved with frieze crosses, Saltire and two elongated dragons. The font cover, much restored, dates from C.17th. During the seventeenth century, the Vicar of Dean Prior was the poet Robert Herrick. In those days the parish population was about 400 people. Now the population is approximately 160. Robert Herrick composed the epitaph to Sir Edward Giles and his wife, which adorns the interesting memorial in the south aisle of the church.

A Dean Prior Miscellany with local historical information and pictures has been published to raise money for the Church Repair Fund 2000.

Copies of the Miscellany can be purchased at the Church at £2.50 GBP each.
The great yew tree in the churchyard was planted in 1780. The lytch gate was built last century and replaced the church house and almshouses. The village surrounding the church, once included a school, and many cottages, these were all pulled down to build the new road through. Around the church, now lying directly to the left of the main road, had been Church Town, with its cottages, church house and school and across the valley and now on the other side of the A38, lie Upper Dean and Deancombe. Lower Dean lies to the left of the A38. 

Church Records: Parish Registers going back to 1557 are now held by Exeter Record Office. Please make your own arrangements to view these directly with the Record Office.

BELOW IS A LIST OF THE FAMILY NAMES FROM THE ORIGINAL PARISH RECORDS 1558-1837

DEAN PRIOR FAMILIES
RESEARCHED THROUGH THE REGISTERS
Name
Research dates
Name
Research dates
ABBOTT 
1724
HEXT
INCOMPLETE
ANDREWS 
1629
LUCKRAFT
1774
BEER 
1710
MADDICK
1774
BOYER
1786
MEATHERELL
1661
BRADRIDGE
1680
PARNELL
17TH CENTURY
BURT
1619
PLUS VARIOUS U.S. GENEALOGICAL TREES
PETHERBRIDGE
1780
CASELEY
1779
PINNEY
19TH CENTURY
CODD
1762
PETHYHOHN/
PETTYJOHN

COULMAN
1600
SYMONS
COMPLETE
EDWARDS
1574
STIDSON
IN PROGRESS
FURNEAUX
1774
TOLCHARD
1530
FURSE
VERY THOROUGH
WINDYATT
VERY THOROUGH
GIDLEY
IN PROGRESS




Rev. John Rowland 1947-2011
We were all stunned and saddened by the sudden death of our vicar, Reverend John Rowland in October 2011. 
His work touched so many lives. He was a "people person" and loved to be out and about in the town mixing with groups, visiting homes and welcoming people into the church. Who will forget his individual style of driving, his unique take on dancing (some residents still bear the scars) and his passion for Plymouth Argyle? 
He had no time for pomposity, and so was able to relate to people from all walks of life and of all ages, and his caring was genuine, springing from his love for his saviour Jesus. He loved contact with children and families, visiting the school, was on the committee of "The Bungalow", and enjoyed beach cricket on church outings, but he was equally happy at the Senior Citizens lunch club and leading services at Redmount Nursing Home. 
What underpinned John's work was his rock-solid faith, which arose from his knowledge of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He had discovered Jesus for himself through the Billy Graham Crusades. He then worked in the London City Mission for 13 years as an evangelist attached to Anglican churches in West London, and later as a vicar in inner-city Liverpool. On his arrival here in Buckfastleigh he guided the church through the painful decisions of rebuilding after the fire at Holy Trinity. Although John left school without formal qualifications he worked hard to train as a minister and his delight was to teach others from the Bible to know and discover the love of Jesus. What we have lost is a very wise and brave man. 
Please remember Penny and his family at this sad time. The Memorial Celebration Service for the
Rev. John Rowland took place at St Luke's Church, Buckfastleigh at 2:30pm on Tuesday 18th October 2011.


We also pray for our former curate, Rev. John Irwin, also an inspiration and a lovely man.