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Please help us by donating £5 a piece to St Sylvester’s Church jigsaw puzzle:




See Joe’s latest drone video with the church in scaffolding on
St Sylvester’s YouTube

Peas for Bees Open Day postponed until 22 August because of Covid restrictions

St Sylvester’s Blog

20 July 2021

Please keep donating to our jigsaw puzzle.

Latest photographs

View showing boarded up window

Close up of boarded up window

Seat next to Priest’s door removed to allow the wall to be repointed

Shipwreck Sailor Stories

As we have already mentioned, as part of our Lottery project Nicky Bailey, our partner from the South Devon AONB, has been working with Sara Hurley to create a film based around the Blizzard of 1891 and the wreck of the Marana, which took place near Start Point. The idea of this film was to circulate it amongst the local schools and ask the children to write the ending. For full details please go to the Shipwrecked Sailors page.

The first part of the film was made in Chivelstone churchyard, next to gravestones of sailors who perished in the storm of 1891 from the wreck of the Marana. Sara’s story telling was based on a character of the wife of Mr Perry, the coastguard. This was sent to all the participating schools with an information pack about the wreck and guidance notes.

Stokenham, Charleton, Salcombe and Malborough Primary Schools took part. Over 120 stories were written and we the judges (Nicky, Sarah, Vicky, Kate and Mark) had to read them all. It was really quite difficult to decide amongst so many. Again full details can be found on the Shipwrecked Sailors page.

The overall winner was Ayla from Malborough:

Shipwreck Stories overall winner

Nicky Bailey, Ayla, Sara Hurley








The winning story was filmed, again being narrated by Sara Hurley in the character of Mrs Perry.

Click on the links below:



St Sylvester’s Blog

3 July 2021

The Hard Hat Day event took place on Tuesday 27 June, with 28 people attending 6 sessions and was a great success. Everyone was asked to complete a survey and below are some of the comments made.

Amazing local craftsmen! Community spirit. An asset that I can now see could now last another 1000 years

How much effect bats have on a project like this.

The work involved to rebuild the church porch. Literally rebuilt by hand. Also how a small bat can totally rearrange the order that work is completed. The tremendous community spirit that a small parish can come together to support each other to preserve such a beautiful historic building. 

The extent of the renovations. The work that has been done to underpin the front porch. The plans for future activities in the church.

What Stonemasons can achieve. Underpinning the stone porch. Repair /renewal of stone mullions. Timing of work to coincide with different bat species’ activity. History of the Church.

The pulpit is such a unique example. 

That an 8 metre foundation had to be dug to support the porch – and that it is now completely invisible.

We had a very informative visit and we’re delighted to see the work already completed.



Very interesting talking to the stone masons, and so impressed at the skill and care they take to get everything exactly like it was those many years ago. It gives you a real insight into the skills those people had especially without the modern equipment that we use today

Very impressed by the direct contribution of local farmers to the restoration of this magnificent church – a very large building in a tiny hamlet. One farmer dug a trench around the church to drain the footings; another provided stone for repairing a wall.

So interesting to hear from the architect and builder the techniques used to stabilise the building.

It was fascinating to watch the stonemasons at work and also to learn about how the bats’ habitat is being protected.

This was a well organised visit to bring the parish and wider community into contact with this project. It was informative not only about the technical detail of the restoration but also about the ambitions of the community to make this church relevlent to the community at large in the future. In its new guise the church will support visitors to the area by providing shelter to those walking the coast path and engaging in other outdoor pursuits in this attractive par of the country.


Full explanations can be found of the Hard Hat Day page on the website.

Here are two videos taken on the Hard Hat Day (click on the photographs):

South Porch after renovation

South Porch after renovation

Bell tower screen

New bell tower screen

Westcountry Stonemasons have now started on repairing the windows. See more photographs below.

St Sylvester’s Blog

16 June 2021

The Church is slowly hatching from the scaffolding, in which it has been living for the last few months. Although it will be several more months before it finally emerges, we are beginning to see the results of all of the work.

Renovated south side of St Sylvester's Church June 2021

Vestry end of St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone Vestry end of St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone
Dusk/Bird Walk

The weather for the Dusk/Bird Walk on 27 May was perfect. Adam Davison took twenty one people round the lanes from St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone. Everybody enjoyed themselves and felt they had a greater understanding of bird habitats as well as more about the Renovation of St Sylvester’s Church funded by the Lottery.

Birdwalk around St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone Birdwalk around St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone
Film of Shipwrecked sailors

Nicky Bailey, our partner from the South Devon AONB, has been working with Sara Hurley to create a film based around the Blizzard of 1891 and the wreck of the Marana, which took place near Start Point. Nicky has invited various schools to take part in writing the end of the story. The best story will be added to the end of the film.

The four schools involved in writing the ending of the film created by Sara Hurley and Nicky Bailey are : Stokenham Primary School, Charleton C of E School, Malborough Primary School and Salcombe C of E School. All schools have sent us stories from their schools to be judged. There are just over 100 stories. Nicky Bailey, Sara Hurley, Kate and Mark Jennings and Vicky Tucker read all the stories and have agreed the winner and runners up (no easy task). This still has to be finalised, but it has been wonderful to read the stories written with such enthusiasm and gusto. It is hoped to finalise the film shortly and then make the announcements.

Peas for Bees!

A date for your calendar: On Sunday 27 June between 1 and 4 pm there will be the Prawle Bees Discovery Day, on East Prawle Village Green. Bug hunts, wildlife walk and much more including Chivelstone Church Stalls.

Although nothing actually to do with the Church as such, the South Devon AONB are helping to protect East Prawle’s rare and special species. The Six Banded Nomad Cuckoo bee survives only at Prawle Point. The Long Horned Mining bee is also extremely rare. The AONB have produced packs of seeds and instructions so that people can grow the flowers to help the bees. These can be collected from the Piglet Stores. Flowers from the pea family are an important source of nectar and pollen for a range of wild bees and other pollinating insects.

Rob Bunn came on the Dusk/Bird walk and mentioned that he had managed to take a couple of photographs.

Bees at Prawle Point

JustGiving jigsaw

This has been going really well and so far we have raised £2,515 or 50%. We really need to reach our target, so if you haven’t contributed so far please help us. Click here for the link to the jigsaw.

The Church Fête at South Allington House will go ahead on Sunday 1 August – fingers crossed!


St Sylvester’s Blog

4 May 2021

St Sylvester’s Church is now completely scaffolded. The Church normally looks as above, but not at the moment. It’s a spectacular sight.

Scaffolded St Sylvester's Church from road

Drone Video

Joe Johnson has now created another drone video of the Church, this time completely surrounded in scaffolding. It is wonderful to see the progress being made to the repairs of the Church. The video is now available on St Sylvester’s YouTube. Thank you Joe.

Joe Johnson with his drone

Bird Walk 20 May – postponed until 27 May

Dusk wildlife walk around Chivelstone – numbers strictly limited

Join Adam Davison from the AONB team for an evening walk around some of the paths and green lanes of Chivelstone, catching the birds as they settle down for the day and the bats coming out for the night! The walk is run in partnership with the Chivelstone Church restoration and community project, volunteers from the team will give an update on this exciting project at the start of the walk from the churchyard.

Numbers are strictly limited, please book your place to get your free ticket from the AONB website and bring it with you to register on the day. Anyone without a ticket will not be able to join us on the walk. Register for your free ticket here. This event will be run in line with the current COVID-19 restrictions at the time. Meet at St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone, TQ7 2LY.

Hard Hat Day 25 May – postponed until 22 June

We are planning on having a hard hat day on 25 May. Westcountry Stonemasons, who are doing all the work to the Church, will conduct short guided tours to show the work they have been doing and answer any questions. These will be 20 minute sessions, but we can only have five people at a time, so we will have to allot time to anyone who wants to take part. If  you are interested in taking part please can you email

The JustGiving jigsaw has been going really well and so far we have raised £2,235 or 44%. We really need to reach our target, so if you haven’t contributed so far please help us. Click here for the link to the jigsaw.

The Church Fête at South Allington House will go ahead on Sunday 1 August – fingers crossed!

St Sylvester’s Blog

31 March 2021

The builders, Westcountry Stonemasons, are getting on extremely well and are currently on target. The structural repairs to the South Porch and the Vestry are nearly complete. See the photographs further below. They are starting to scaffold the tower, which should be completed in about two weeks time, at which time the whole church will still be scaffolded. We hope to take a drone video of this, before they start removing some of the scaffolding from the other end of the Church. At some point in the future we will try to arrange a day when visitors can go and see the Church and talk to the builders.

The JustGiving jigsaw is going really well and so far we have raised £2,020 or 40%.

The Church Fête at South Allington House will go ahead on Sunday 1 August – fingers crossed!


St Sylvester’s Blog

3 March 2021

There are two sections to this current blog – the first part is about the virtual jigsaw puzzle of the Church and the second part is photographs of progress of the restoration work.

In order to raise more money for the Church Repair Project, Sarah and Michael Douglas have created a virtual jigsaw puzzle of St Sylvester’s Church on the JustGiving website. Every £5 donated adds a piece to the puzzle, which has 1000 pieces. In this way we hope to raise £5000.

Mike will update the puzzle on the website at regular intervals by adding pieces of the jigsaw according to the donation received. You can see below the start of the project.

Virtual Jigsaw Puzzle as fundraising St Sylvester's Church for jigsaw puzzle

Please help us by donating £5 a piece to the above jigsaw puzzle:

Westcountry Stonemasons have been very busy at the Church and are getting on really well. Below are just some of the photographs to show you what has been happening. The first few photographs are of the South Porch with a photograph showing you how the porch was before they started.


St Sylvester’s Blog

12 January 2021

The contractors started on 4 January 2021 as anticipated. Feeling like naughty children we were told to keep away from the Church, except by specific arrangement. This is because the contractors, Westcountry Stonemasons, now have sole possession of the Church until the contract completion in November 2021. They are responsible for all site Health and Safety including compliance with Covid regulations.

We will not be allowed into the Church without their permission. Therefore please do not turn up hoping to go inside to see what is happening.

The photographs below are the clearing of the earth and grass around the Church. We have dug down to the original level that was covered with gravel. After everything has finished we will replace the gravel, although some of the original still remains. There are also a few photographs of the Church in scaffolding.

St Sylvester’s Blog

23 December 2020

Once again today’s blog consists largely of photographs: finishing off the space from the removed pews and photographs from the Christingle service last Sunday taking advantage of the new space.

On Monday 4 January 2021 Westcountry Stonemasons start work on the Church. We will keep you updated with photographs and information as to how things are going. We will not be allowed into the Church without their permission. Therefore please do not turn up hoping to go inside to see what is happening.

St Sylvester’s Blog

17 December 2020

This instalment of the blog consists of photographs depicting what has been happening to the Church in the last couple of months:

  • Removing the pews from the back of the Church to create a working space for more community activities
  • Bringing mains water into the Church: laying a water supply for the new toilet/shower and, if we can raise additional funds for a new kitchenette, all to facilitate greater community use of the Church
  • The pre-start meeting with Le Page Architects and the contractors Westcountry Stonemasons Contractors to get ready for physical site start on 4 January to make the Church weather proof and structurally sound

There will be another blog very soon with more photographs showing how the exposed wiring has been concealed to complete the clearing of the area at the back of the Church.






St Sylvester’s Blog

30 November 2020

As always, the Remembrance Service at the Church was a special occasion. The short service was outside with Jane Bickle playing the organ inside. There were 19 people all standing around the war memorial. The poppies are the ones created for Remembrance Sunday in 2018 – they have been put up and will stay till after Christmas.

We are pleased to announce that the National Lottery Heritage Fund are happy with our plans for the restoration work and have approved our contractor of choice, so all being well the hammers and chisels will be pounding away inside the church from the 4th January 2021.  Some of our local residents, namely the bats, are not so happy and we have to wait until April to start on the exterior.

Our ‘Ecology Lady’ came to the church last week to block up all the nooks and crannies and maybe a few crooks and nannies!  She is pictured on the right going up the tower. She will remove all the bats from inside their hiding places and bat boxes will be installed allowing our selection of Lesser Horseshoe, Noctules, Pipistrelles, Brown and Grey Long Eared bats all to enjoy comfy, local (affordable) housing. This will allow them to keep an eye on developments from a safe distance. It has been said that one of their Romanian cousins, Vlad somebody or other, is planning a holiday here once the lockdown is over. Apparently, he’s not an avid churchgoer!

If anyone is on the run from traffic wardens, they can always seek sanctuary at the church as we have a sanctuary ring. The sanctuary ring was a metal ring attached to the door of a church. A fugitive from the law had only to touch the knocker in order to claim the right of sanctuary. This allowed him to stay in the church, free from prosecution, for a period of time, usually 40 days.

Our intrepid team have been doing a lot of clearing of the gulley at the back of the church (Roger & Vicky Tucker, Mark Jennings and Edward Baker). Grownups love playing mudpies and this bunch are no exception!

We recently had a visit from our local MP Anthony Mangnall – he came to the church and stood in the pulpit. He asked if he could help in any way….. We’ll think of something.

Inside the church is an old ‘Tortoise’ coke fired stove, it is pretty dilapidated and looks rather sorry for itself. Vicky Tucker mentioned that a dead bat had been found in one of them!  I hope it wasn’t Uncle Vlad arriving early!

In days gone by the same type of tortoise stove was used in our village school. In the winter the coke fired ‘tortoise’ had to be lit every morning in time to warm the building for the 9am start.

There is a great deal going on at the moment to do with the start of the repairs to the Church. Too much for this edition, so there will be another fairly soon.


St Sylvester’s Blog

21 October 2020

Each year many people travel to the South Hams for their annual holiday.  The parish of Chivelstone is a popular destination with its rolling countryside, magnificent coastline and lovely Devon villages.  For those who especially travel to Chivelstone, South Allington, East Prawle and East Portlemouth, they will all have one thing in common, they will all travel past the small turning to Chivelstone where the ancient tower of St Sylvester’s Church stands proud and commanding over the land all around it.

Hibernating bat

Hibernating bat

The exact date of consecration is unknown, but a church has definitely stood on this site since the end of the 13th century. The tower and chancel are part of an older structure, but around1536 the nave and aisles were rebuilt. 

It just goes to show that church restoration isn’t a recent thing! The church has weathered well over the centuries but like all of us over a certain age, the creaks and groans of the passing years take their toll. 

To address this, a stalwart group of parishioners decided to apply to the National Lottery Heritage Fund with the intention of obtaining funds to manage the repairs and restoration of this historic and beautiful place of worship.  Vicky and Roger Tucker, Kate and Mark Jennings, Greg Weatherdon and Edward Baker, on behalf of the PCC, set about this process and found it was more than a little involved.

It is not just about asking for money, that is the easy part, it is also necessary to justify the request. The group had to provide a plan of works required; it needed to show what the church could offer in respect of activities to engage, not only with its congregation, but also the wider community.  Undeterred, the team set about this task. They held an informative open evening in the parish community hall where they showed all their progress to date and what they hoped for going forwards.  More importantly, they gave people the chance to engage, as volunteers and also as a source of further ideas. This was extremely well received locally and added a buzz of anticipation within the local community.

Bat on finger

Since that initial meeting, there have been various activities such as a bat walk, bird walk, open day, musical evening, mummers play and due to Covid19 we have recently held an online bat chat – did you know bats are not blind? 

All these events have created opportunities to raise funds. This has shown the commitment necessary for the National Lottery Heritage Fund to provide a large grant towards the restoration project so necessary to get St Sylvester’s back to its best.

Children in the medieval pulpit on Open Day 21 July 2019

Open Day 21 July 2019

Please note:  I am local to the parish and will be watching and listening for items of interest. I love a good gossip and as nobody knows who I am, be careful what you say. Who knows, you may be the star of the next entry!

Future blog entries will detail the unique facets of the church, the Rood Screen, the one-piece pulpit, the sanctuary ring, just some of the fascinating items within the church.  We will also provide details of events held and what we propose for the future, please look out for these. In the meantime the following links below may be of interest.


Next week, our local MP Anthony Mangnall, will be visiting the church and seeing all of the progress to date and our plans for the future. I’ll let you know what happened in due course.


The narrow lane leading down to St Sylvester's Church

The narrow lane leading down to St Sylvester’s Church

Water coming through the tower wall

Water coming through the tower wall, February 2020


Launch party on 22 February 2019


Mummers Play 6 January 2020 Henry VIII

Henry VIII at Mummers Play 6 January 2020