The Parish of Shute with Whitford lies 5 km west of Axminster in East Devon. It forms the southernmost part of the Mission Community and incorporates the villages of Shute and Whitford and the hamlets of Umborne, Seaton Junction and Hampton.
The Village Communities
The Parish of Shute has a population of about 650, with an employment pattern varied, but mainly serving the neighbouring towns, Axminster and Honiton. East Devon is still essentially an agricultural area, but modern technology means that very few are now employed in that industry. The Parish is also a sought after place for those of retirement age, and those attracted to the school for their children.
The population of the parish is concentrated, first in the village of Whitford; second in Shute, and smaller concentrations are: Umborne, Seaton Junction, and Hampton. There are also scattered farms throughout.
There are a number of families in the villages and Shute has a small primary school which is able to accommodate up to 84 children. Although not a church school, they use the building every year for their Carol service and Harvest festival. Umborne and Whitford have well-appointed village halls, both of which are well used for village activities.
Further information about the villages can be found at http://www.umborne.org
The Churches of St Michael, Shute and St Mary at the Cross, Whitford
St Michael’s, Shute
A chapel was built on the site of St Michael’s during the 13th century. It was enlarged during the 15th century when the lady chapel was built, and again in the 19th century when the north aisle was added.
Services take place at St Michael’s on the second and fourth Sundays each month, and a combined service with the other Mission Community congregations rotating between the different parishes.
St Mary at the Cross, Whitford
Built in 1908 as a daughter church to St Michael’s, St Mary’s was originally designated as a mission church for the village of Whitford. Special services are held here for festivals. The church seats 36.
Church and Village Activities
St Michael’s has a thriving Bell Ringers’ Association, and the six bells are rung from the Chancel steps for all Sunday services, and whenever required on other occasions. Members of the congregation read lessons, and arrange flowers. Others from the local community are involved in this and cleaning the building. .
Shute Barton (National Trust Property)
The Barton is open to the public four times a year. The NT guides are happy to direct visitors to the church following their tour, where they can look at the building and find detailed information concerning the monuments and plaques. They are also able to enjoy tea, served by church and local community members.