Todd gave a very interesting talk, based on the research for his new book "Devon's Ancient Bench Ends"
Sadly as the years have passed the meaning and purpose of the carvings have been lost, but some depict a trade like cloth, wool and a cook with the little spit dog.
Church records in Devon can give an insight into the carvings and they are thought to be the best in the UK.
Traditional seating plans are unique to each parish, it is a myth that no there were not seats in the churches as research shows the upgrading taking place across the county over the years.
East Budleigh pews can be dated back to early the 1530s, then in about 1600 box pews came into use, they even had curtains, so that the congregation could only bee seen by the vicar from his high pulpit! Then they evolved back to being equal open pews.
Harry Hems carver (http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/_people/hems.php) also the Pinn Sisters were prominent carvers in the 1800s.
Village art traditions influenced the carvers themes. In East Budleigh the Red Indian pew, or leaf head is unique. The carvings are found to be unique to areas of the County, with some influences from Somerset and Cornwall. Also you can see Demons and folklore figures in the carvings.
Following the talk I am sure many will be looking at the Devon Pews with a renewed interest.