Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 23, 2020
Webpage updated: April 21, 2022




The Anglican Church of Saint Pancras, Pennycross.
From a postcard.

The Anglican Church of Saint Pancras is situated in Honicknowle Lane, Pennycross, Plymouth.

The altar at the Anglican Church of Saint Pancras, Plymouth.

The altar at the Anglican Church of Saint Pancras, Plymouth.
From a postcard.

A chapel may have existed on this site as long ago as the Saxon period, when it would have been to serve the Manor and Tything of Weston Peverel.  Tradition certainly has it that the old church pre-dated Saint Andrew's.  The birth and burial records begin in 1634 and marriages are recorded from 1636.  No marriages were performed at Saint Pancras between 1753 and 1837.

However, Saint Pancras became a chapelry within the Mother Parish of Saint Andrew's.  At that time it measured 57 feet by 13, including the tower and chancel.  It would have served mainly the families and workers of Burrington, Ham and Manadon houses but by 1820 the population of the Tything had increased to over 200 souls and in that year three commissioners -- the Reverends John Gandy, Jonathan Williams and Robert Lampen -- were appointed by the Bishop of Exeter to investigate the condition of the fabric of the Chapel.  It was not used much.   The Reverend J T Trelawny-Ross, writing in 1909, said that Holy communion was celebrated only four times a year and Evensong was said in the afternoon, only once a fortnight.

Church restoration had not been invented at that time so almost everything of age and interest in the Chapel was destroyed and the western end completely demolished.  The seats belonging to the owners of Burrington, Ham and Manadon were, however, left in the eastern part. 

The local Squire, Mr George Collins of Ham House, was largely responsible for the replacement building, which was in the shape of a Greek cross.  It re-opened for services on Sunday August 26th 1821.  George Collins' son, the Reverend Charles Trelawny Collins, was appointed as a Lecturer and later Curate, in which post he served for over 40 years.

A further extension, along with general repair work, was carried out between 1866 and 1870 and it re-opened again on Friday July 29th 1870, when a well-attended service was held at 11am.  The architect was Mr O C Arthur Archilas of Plymouth and the work was carried out by Mr Foot, builder.

The new Church consisted of transepts measuring 47 feet in length by 22 feet in width, and at the east end a chancel of 35 feet by 13 feet, to the north of which was the organ.  The interior was fitted out in varnished pitch pine.  The floor of the aisles were of encaustic and mosaic tiles supplied by Messrs Minton, Taylor and Company of Stoke-on-Trent, while the chancel floor was laid with Wirth's parquetry.  Another Stoke pottery, Messrs Minton, Hollins and Company, supplied and fitted the majolica tiles on the side walls.  The decoration at the east end, including the altar rails, were the gift of Captain George Foot RA, JP, and Miss Foot, of Tor Grove.

The ecclesiastical parish was formed on Tuesday February 8th 1898 from the parish of Saint Andrew

The font came from Saint Budeaux Parish Church, where it had been put in when that church was licensed for baptisms in 1482.  Although Saint Pancras came under the Vicar of Saint Andrew's Church, it was apparently served by the Vicar or Curate of Saint Budeaux Parish Church.

On Thursday July 20th 1899 the Lord of the Manor of Weston Peverel, the Reverend John Hall Parlby (1805-1899), was laid to rest in the churchyard.

Two developments took place in 1901.  On the afternoon of Wednesday February 6th, Mrs Hall Parlby, of Manadon House, laid the corner stone of a new Pennycross Mission Hall on a piece of land at the corner of Ham Lane and what is now Recreation Road.  It was needed to provide a more convenient place of worship for parishioners living in the new district of Montpelier and for use as a church hall for functions by which the incumbent would be able to establish a relation with his parishioners in an informal and friendly way'.

Built of wood on a brick base, it had a corrugated iron roof and seating for about 150 people.  It was designed by architect, Mr James Ford, and constructed by builder, Mr J Davy.

After a short service at the Church, which commenced at 3pm, the clergy and congregation walked to the site, where after the stone was laid, Mr J Bright James, on behalf of the churchwardens (the other was Mr R S Tuttle) and the parishioners, presented Mrs Hall-Parlby with an inscribed silver trowel as a memento of the occasion.  

In the same year a vicarage was built at the top of Honicknowle Lane.  That has now been converted into an old peoples' home.

But the expansion of the southern part of the parish (Peverell Park Road) to something like 4,000 inhabitants by 1909, brought about a desire for a new Church in that area to save the steep walk to Saint Pancras.  The vicar of Pennycross, the Reverend W E Waddington, MA., thus set about raising funds for the erection of Saint Martin's.

In 1933 it was decided to use the crypt of the Church as a hall and the one at Ham Lane was closed and handed over to the Hall-Parlby family, to whom it belonged.  At the start of the Second World War it was taken over by Messrs Erlich of Albert Road, Devonport, as a factory for making naval uniforms.

Pennycross Church was heavily damaged in the Second World War.  In the 1950s the services were held in Saint Martin's Crypt, Tavistock Road, Peverell.  Work started on repairing the Church in 1952 and it was re-consecrated on Saturday July 14th 1956 by the Bishop of Exeter.

A new Church Hall was built in 1964 on the site previously occupied by the Pennycross National School.

Yet another extension was opened on January 21st 1984 by the Bishop of Exeter.