The History of Holy Cross, Newton Ferrers and
St Peter's Revelstoke, Noss Mayo
Historically, being in two different parishes there was no combined place of worship for Newton and Noss. The residents of Noss had a lengthy walk to St Peter's Church on the cliffs; this was still expected on Sundays and major festivals even after 1400 when the Chapel of Ease of St John the Baptist was built in the village for everyday use. Even more onerous, until 1430 when a licence was granted for a cemetery at St Peter's all burials took place at Yealmpton - involving mourners in a funeral procession of over three miles!
Newton church had been rebuilt by the Ferrers family early in the 12th century and around 1260 they built a new church, Holy Cross. It was less than half the size of the present building and in 1342 was enlarged by the then rector, Henry de Ferrers. (Henry also extended the parsonage - Parsonage Farm - probably the oldest house in the village). Further extensive alterations took place in 1460 creating the church we can recognise today. A rood screen was erected in 1520 only to be removed during the reformation. There was continual squabbling among the descendants of the Ferrers over who was entitled to appoint the rector of Holy Cross until finally the right was sold to the Yonges of Puslinch in 1729. From 1752 until 1940 the rectors were nearly all members of the Yonge family.
The Yonges built the first Newton school in 1837, on church land close to the site of the present school.
Two years later over at Noss Mayo a new Chapel of Ease was built and the old chapel was extended to become the first Noss school. In 1862 a licence was granted for marriages to take place in the chapel, St Peter's church having been badly damaged in a storm in 1840. Shortly afterwards the church was deemed unsafe and all services there ceased.
The mid-19th century was a time of tragedy for Noss when an outbreak of cholera swept through the village. Out of a population of just over six hundred more than two hundred were afflicted and at least fifty died of the dreadful disease. The names of seemingly entire families carved on the gravestones at St Peter's are a poignant reminder of this harrowing time.
Major changes came to Noss after 1877, the date of the purchase of Membland estate by Edward Baring, the 1st Lord Revelstoke. He transformed the 18th century house (which was demolished in 1945 leaving only outbuildings). The magnificent new church of St Peter's which faces Holy Cross across the creek was also built by the Barings, and this became the parish church. The old church at Stoke was renamed St Peter the Poor Fisherman - today it stands as a partial ruin, cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and a group of local volunteers. A service is still held there every year during the River Yealm regatta.