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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Devon

by Peter Kessler, 22 December 2019

Exeter Part 7: Churches of Central Exeter

Assumption of Our Lady Chapel (Tuckers Hall), Exeter, Devon

The Assumption of Our Lady Chapel (Tuckers Hall) stands on the northern side of Fore Street, about forty metres west of the King Street junction. The Guilds and Incorporation occupied Tuckers Hall from 1471. For a time it also served as a chapel for the Fraternity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the guild of weavers, tuckers, and shearmen), being officially recognised as such in 1523. By 1602 the building was entirely secular, probably following the Reformation.

St John's Bow Church, Exeter, Devon

St John's Bow Church (sometimes also known as St John de Arcubus, and possibly originally dedicated to St John the Baptist), stood on the western side of the John Street junction with Fore Street. John Street can be seen to the left of the church in this postcard which post-dates the 1863 removal of the bow over John Street. St Stephen's Bow today preserves a similar feature (see links), although St John's had its chancel here rather than a meeting room.

St John's Bow Church, Exeter, Devon

The oldest work in the church prior to demolition was pre-1400s - the building existed by 1222 - but the fabric had generally been rebuilt since then, and was extended southwards in 1791. A new chancel was supplied once the bow had been removed in 1863. The last service was held in 1933 and the church closed in 1934. It was demolished in 1937-1938, although the tower managed to survive a further twenty years. Today the site is occupied by retail premises.

Bow Meeting, Exeter, Devon

Bow Meeting stood midway along the west side of John Street, formerly visible from Fore Street by glancing under the 'bow' of St John Bow (above). This view of John Street is from the south end, alongside a public house. This Presbyterian Independent meeting was established at the end of the 1600s, with similar meetings named James and Little Meeting (see links). It helped to found the Dissenter's Graveyard in 1748, but closed in 1794 to move to Castle Street.

Friernhay Plymouth Brethren Meeting Room and Friernhay Congregational Church, Exeter, Devon

Friernhay Plymouth Brethren Meeting Room was on Friernhay Street's western side. The Brethren were here by 1897, close to Friernhay Congregational Church which was about forty metres from the northern end (on this side of the large bush). The Brethren possibly remained until around the Second World War period as did the Congregationalists. Since then, along with large areas of central Exeter, the western side of Friernhay has been extensively remodelled.

Bartholomew Street Baptist Church and Westgate Christian Fellowship, Exeter, Devon

Bartholomew Street Baptist Church occupies the outside of the north-western corner of Bartholomew Street West, as the street veers eastwards towards the site of Allhallows-on-the-Walls (below). The chapel was founded around 1817 (registers start from that date), and it planted an outreach named St Thomas Baptist in 1940 (see links). Westgate Christian Fellowship inherited this building in the late 1960s, springing out of the 'House Church' movement.

Chapel of St Mary & St Francis, Exeter, Devon

The Chapel of St Mary & St Francis, Bartholomew Yard, lay within Friernhay Burial Ground, immediately south of the later St Bartholomew's Burial Ground - on the right of the railings here - and on the northern side of Bartholomew St West. This medieval chapel was part of the Franciscan friary which occupied the site (later to be the churchyard of Allhallows-on-the-Walls - below). The friars eventually moved out of central Exeter but the chapel survived until about 1500.

Church of Allhallows-on-the-Walls, Exeter, Devon

The Church of Allhallows-on-the-Walls, Bartholomew Yard, also lay within Friernhay Burial Ground (see above). It gained its name from a medieval church which bore the same name (or, alternatively, Allhallows-above-the-Wall) and which stood at the crossroads of Bartholomew Street and Fore Street between the 1100s and 1770 (although it was turned into a ruin in 1645-46 during the English Civil War). Its tower was virtually a defensive post on the wall.

Church of Allhallows-on-the-Walls, Exeter, Devon

The new church was built in 1843-45 in the middle of the now-full Friernhay Burial Ground, just after that had been closed and the new St Bartholomew's Burial Ground opened. Built in limestone, it weathered so badly that the tower pinnacles had to be removed by 1902. Declared redundant in 1938, demolition followed in 1950. The outer churchyard walls survive, as do the gateposts. The church was directly north of this particular set of steps on Bartholomew St West.

St Nicholas Catholic Church, Exeter, Devon

St Nicholas Catholic Church is on the eastern side of the passage between Bartholomew Street East and the western side of The Mint Church (immediately south of the Friernhay Burial Ground (see above), and opposite St Nicholas Priory (see links). It was built in 1790-92 using the local Heavitree sandstone but soon became too small. The congregation joined that at Sacred Heart Church (see links). This building was converted into apartments at the end of the 1900s.

Eight photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one from the History Files collection. Additional information from Discovering Exeter 7: Lost Churches, Exeter Civic Society, 1995.



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