History – St Thomas’s
A Brief History of the Parish Church of Chevithorne, Saint Thomas the Apostle
The Doomsday book of 1086 records Chevithorne as being one of the Manors within Tiverton. At this time there was one large parish based on St Peter’s and served from the 12th century by three or four priests, each responsible for their own “portion” of the parish; Chevithorne being part of Tidcombe Portion. Each priest or Rector took services one Sunday per month but was responsible for the whole of his portion. In time small chapels were built in outlying areas.
Unusually, this arrangement of a group of priests serving one parish endured until the late 19th century, when Chevithorne’s history really came to life. William Rayer, Rector of Tidcombe Portion at the time, besides contributing to the founding of Tiverton Infirmary (now Tiverton Hospital), was responsible for the building of the chapel at Chevithorne, which was completed in 1843.
In 1816 John Heathcoat brought his lacemaking business and resulting prosperity to the town and in 1869 his grandson, John Heathcoat Amory , commissioned William Burges to design Knightshayes Court in the ‘muscular Gothic’ style and also the Vicarage at Chevithorne. Both the Church and the Vicarage behind it (now a private house) are Grade II Listed. The Church contains a number of memorials to the Heathcoat Amory family and in the Churchyard is a memorial to Michael Heathcoat Amory designed by Eric Gill. The family has remained closely associated with the church.
By an Act of Parliament in 1884 one Rector was installed at St Peter’s and Chevithorne became a separate parish until 1950, when it was re-united with St Peter’s until 1955. The Rev’d Frank Miles then took full charge of Chevithorne with Cove until 1974 after which the Exe Valley Team took over until 1994 .
St Thomas the Apostle, Chevithorne remains, once again, linked with St Peter’s in a benefice entitled Tiverton St Peter’s and Chevithorne with Cove.