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Southernhay Chapel lay on the east side of
Southernhay East, precisely midway between the Southernhay Gardens
and Cathedral Close junctions. Built in the Romanesque style by Fore
Street Free Church's congregation in 1846, problems with ownership
forced them to join St James' Free Church in 1860. Presbyterians
used it before it was sold as New Wesleyan Methodist Chapel
Southernhay in 1865. Briefly home to wartime Congregationalists,
it was demolished in 1962.
The original Southernhay Congregational Church
was built at the south-east corner of the junction between Southernhay
East and Dix's Field. The members of Castle Street Chapel (see links)
were becoming somewhat cramped by the 1860s, and required a larger
building in a better location. They acquired the site of the former
Southernhay Bath House on the corner of Dix's Field and erected their
first, Early Decorated church building here between 1868-1870.
That was destroyed during the Exeter Blitz of
1942, although the tower and spire survived. For a while the
congregation met in the former Southernhay Methodist Chapel (see
above) while the church was rebuilt around the old tower and other
remnants. The mismatch in styles between original limestone and
modern brick is clearly evident but certainly does not detract from
an elegant building. Following the post-war union the church became
Southernhay United Reformed Church.
Elim Pentecostal Church stood on Paris
Street (Parrys Street, formerly Shytebrook Street thanks to the
eponymous brook which ran from Chute Street to the Exe - 'shyte' is
an easy transformation of 'chute'). It opened in 1928 following a
visit to Exeter by the founder of Elim, Welsh evangelist George
Jeffries. The church's precise location is uncertain even with the
help of OS maps, but it was demolished in the early 1960s to make
way for the bus station.
Bedford Chapel stood on the eastern side
of Bedford Square (also lost). The site is now 'marked' by an open
space opposite Debenhams (2019) on what is now Bedford Street,
looking down Princeshay (see the next photo). This approximate
location was the site of Exeter Dominican Priory & Chapel
(the Black Friars) between 1232 and 1539. The earls of Bedford
gained the site at the Dissolution and built a town house which
survived until that too was demolished in 1773.
Bedford Square was built up in two parts on the
cleared land. The chapel was erected in 1832 as an undedicated
proprietary chapel at a time at which the city's churches had been
closed due to a cholera outbreak. Just 110 years later, both chapel
and square were badly damaged by the Exeter Blitz of May 1942 and
the remains of the former were finally cleared in 1946. The unhoused
congregation was granted the use of the nearby St Stephen's Bow (see
St Catherine's Chapel & Almshouses
stands on the southern side of Catherine Street, and directly south
of St Stephen's Bow (see below) on the High Street. The almshouses
were founded in the 1400s to house thirteen poor persons, thanks to
John Stevens, a canon at the cathedral, whose will bears the date
1457. Various others gave to support the almshouses and it still
remained in use in the 1800s, although it had switched to secular
control in the 1600s.
The chapel stands within the almshouses grounds
and towards the back. It is a small two storey building with a small
bell turret. Baptists began meeting here from the 1680s as,
effectively, St Catherine's Baptist Meeting. By 1712 they
were close to reaching 300 members so they moved to a fresh meeting
room on Gandy Street (see links). The almshouses were largely
destroyed by fire on 4 May 1942 during the Exeter Blitz and have
been preserved as a war memorial.
St Stephen's Bow is on the southern side
of the High Street, immediately north of the remnants of St
Catherine's Chapel & Almshouses (above) and around seventy metres
east of the junction with Queen Street. The 'bow' in the name is for
the arched walkway through to St Catherine's Chapel behind it.
Whether or not an earlier - probably wooden - building stood here is
unknown, but the present building was erected in local Heavitree red
stone around AD 1000.
Unusually for a Saxon church it has a crypt - one
of six in the entire country - a place in which relics would be
displayed. Some early Norman lengthening of the church was improved
further in the 1300s. It was extended again in the 1400s, widened
too, and the tower was added. A south chapel was added soon
afterwards, by the 1500s. The Protectorate ordered the church sold,
but the Stuart restoration negated that act. The building was
renovated in 2011.
Nine photos on this page by P L Kessler. Additional
information from Discovering Exeter 7: Lost Churches, Exeter
Civic Society, 1995.