St. Mary, South Zeal
St Mary's South Zeal is an ancient Guild chapel, set in the heart of what was a 13th century 'new town'. A fine 14th century cross (18 feet high) is in the garden. It is considered one of the finest in Devon. A church inventory of 1552 recorded "two bells at the 'Chapell in villa Zele'" and the bell turret is c14th century. In disrepair after the Reformation, St Mary's has been a school, and, having been re-ordered about 10 years ago, is now once again a place of prayer, sanctuary and peace. The quiet garden was created on the site of three thatched cottages demolished c1877. Recently restores as a community project, the plants have been chosen for their healing, sensory and insect-friendly qualities, with spring bulbs and herbs. Allium, poppies, lavenders, spreading thymes and rosemary are among the plantings. There is a small wildflower patch and a home-made bug station. Two seats and a bench are in the garden which has a path winding between a large bay tree and a holly. It is a lovely place of stillness in the centre of this historic Dartmoor village, and lies in the shadow of Cosdon, one of the most beautiful hills on the North Eastern corner of Dartmoor. The river Taw runs nearby.
The chapel is suitable for quiet days for individuals or groups. The Church House in nearby South Tawton is especially suitable for Quiet Days (see www.thechurchhouse.org.uk). This is a 15th century Ale House, restored with a major Heritage grant in 2005 and next door to St Andrew’s Church, South Tawton which is also well worth a visit, as are other churches in the group - St Andrew’s Hittisleigh, St Mary’s Throwleigh, and Holy Trinity Gidleigh..
Standard opening times: The Garden and St Mary’s are always open during daylight hours. An Iona Service and Celtic Morning Prayer are held on alternate Sundays each month at 10 am. Quiet Days are held locally throughout the year.
South Zeal, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2JS, United Kingdom
Grid reference: SX 651 935
By car: Leave the A30 dual carriageway at Whiddon Down if coming from Exeter and head for Sticklepath. Turn off right at the sign for South Zeal; into the village centre and just past the Oxenham Arms, the Chapel is straight ahead. From Okehampton (West) follow the B3260 up out of the town, cross over the dual carriageway and head for Sticklepath; go through that village and then turn left at the top of the hill. At the first crossroads turn right into South Zeal and the Chapel is on the right-hand side in the middle of the village.
By public transport: Not easy - buses are erratic and occasional. Recommend consulting a local timetable.
On foot: Simply head for South Zeal and you will see St. Mary’s near the village shop.
There is one step, off the road into the garden and the church. There are toilet facilities in the entrance to the recreation ground about 100 yards down the road on the right. Refreshments are available in the village store and café, just across the road, and there are two pubs nearby. A basket of small provisions is made available for visitors to St Mary’s. Accommodation in village pubs, local B & Bs and Whiddon Down Travelodge (5 mins drive).
The Hospitaller - details below - is available most days (with advance notice).
Additional contact person: The Team Rector Tel: 01647 432880 email:email@example.com
Tel: 01837 840418