Onward Christian Soldiers!


The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) is probably best known for this hymn but his multiple achievements and unconventional life have been summed up by the SBG Appreciation Society and I refer you to their website.

He was regarded as one of the top ten novelists of his time, but wrote prolifically on his travels, religious matters, historical figures and on many other topics. Over 1200 publications are listed in his bibliography.


He was an early archaeologist, respected for his work on Dartmoor, in Cornwall, in Wales and in France. He was also a folklorist, but he regarded his greatest achievement to be his collection of songs, most of them heard from singers in Devon and Cornwall. Beside his writing he re-created the twin hearts of his beloved parish of Lew Trenchard – his home, Lew House and the beautiful little church of St Peter, Lewtrenchard. For these he was his own architect.”

Lew Trenchard Church

St Peter’s, Lew Trenchard

Lynne and I travelled in convoy along narrow, high-hedged Devon lanes to the village of Lew Trenchard where SBG is buried in the churchyard along with his wife and many members of his extensive family (he fathered 15 children).

LT Churchyard

SBG grave

SBG wording

“PARAVI LUCERNAM CHRISTO MEO” – ‘I have prepared a landtern for my Christ’

The church was open and there was lots of interest inside; most of it entirely due to the SBG’s persistent enthusiasm.

LT interior

The painting over the altar, by Paul Deschwanden, is reputed to be a duplicate of one painted by him for the church at Freiburg, Switzerland.

The rood screen is 16th century and was demolished during church renovations in 1832. As a boy SBG saved many fragments and eventually, using a pre-1832 painting, an accurate restoration was made. The larger panels represent scenes from the Gospels and the smaller ones are of individual (and little-known) West Country saints.



The Triptych is by a 15th century Flemish artist and was presented to the church in 1881 by a Colchester lady.


The lectern was turned out of a church in Britanny and found its way to Lew Trenchard.

clergy stalls

The clergy stalls were reconstructed from old woodwork in 1904 and 1905.

pew end

Nine of the pew ends were salvaged by SBG himself from the pre-1832 renovations and the rest are copies or reconstructions.

the gift of light

[The basis of the notes accompanying the photographs has been taken from the Parish Church Guide]


4 comments on “Onward Christian Soldiers!

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Baring Gould was an astonishing man. What an achievement!

  2. Fran says:

    Lovely to see inside the church. DGR and I stopped by there in the summer but didn’t go in. What a character Baring Gould was.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.