So this is the first of a different kind of blog entry. Sometimes the Moor is too wet to explore or I just fancy something a little more sedate than hiking across Dartmoor. I love photography, I don’t pretend to be any good at it, I just enjoy doing it and thought why not just take my camera out and explore some of the more out of the way places that I maybe wouldn’t come across while walking but that are still part of Dartmoor’s rich landscape. For the first of those photo trips I decided to visit Brentor Church on the western edge of the Moor just north of Tavistock.
Brentor Church is a major landmark on the southern Moor because of its commanding setting perched on the top of the sheer rock outcrop of Brent Tor; it sits above its immediate surrounding area and so its distinctive outline can be seen from miles around. The original church was built around 1130 by a wealthy local landowner Robert Giffard, however most of the church as seen today was constructed on the original foundations in the 13th & 14th centuries. To this day is believed to be the highest ‘working’ church (340m) and the forth smallest in the UK at only 40ft in length.
There are many stories about Brentor and how it came to be built where it was, the most famous is that a wealthy merchant associated with the Giffard family was caught in a horrendous storm at sea and offered a prayer to God in which he promised that he’d build a church on the first land he sighted when he was delivered safely back to terra firma. Another tells of how the residents of the local village were pagan worshipers and after being converted to Christianity they decided to honour God with a new church which was built at the bottom of Brent Tor. The Devil was non to happy about his ex-followers new found faith and once the church was complete, he destroyed it. The villages determined to have their church rebuilt and this time the Devil decided to perch it on the top of Brent Tor to make them endure a steep climb to visit it. The villages decided to leave it where it had been placed and after a dedication service by the Bishop of Exeter the Devil reappeared intent on causing destruction once again however this time St. Michael (who the church had been dedicated in the name of) came down from Heaven and a bitter and vicious battle ensued between the two of them. St. Michael finally cast the Devil from the rocky outcrop and followed it up by throwing a huge rock on top of him. The Devil was terribly wounded but was able to escape never to be seen again. The huge boulder that St. Michael crushed the Devil with is still visible at the base of the Tor.