‘St Andrew’s Church is genuinely a church of its community: paid for, prayed in and cherished by the people of the parish.
‘The greatest treasure of Moretonhampstead’s parish church is its position. When you first see it from the Exeter road it makes a striking impression – standing atop its hill majestically, as if it is particularly proud of itself. From the opposite direction it looks more humble, against the backdrop of the higher hills to the north and east; but the tower is still easily visible from the high moor and the road from Dartmoor. Indeed it is such a landmark that one suspects that this purpose was in the minds of its builders in 1418: to guide the tinners and other moorland travellers. Like Widecombe, ‘the cathedral of the moor’, it dominates its locality with an expression of prestige that is rare in this humble, far-flung corner of England.
‘The present church is not the first to stand on the site. Not only do we have references to a church here that predated the existing fifteenth century building, there is visible proof that an earlier structure stood here. The most significant evidence is the mark of the earlier roof against the internal wall of the tower, which was built in 1418. This earlier church is often said to have been of thirteenth-century date, itself a replacement of an older, Saxon or Norman church. However, while this is not impossible, it is more likely that the roofline is the shadowy remnant of the first church to be built in Moreton, and that was probably built around the year 1100.’
Extract taken from A guide to the history and fabric of St Andrew’s Church Moretonhampstead – by Bill Hardiman and Ian Mortimer (available from the church, price £2.00)