Castle Street Chapel is reached via Castle
Street but is also viewable here from Northernhay Place, high above
the city wall. The site was originally the High Gaol, but when this
was demolished a group of Congregationalists who wanted to leave the
Arian Presbyterian ministry of George's Meeting bought the site.
Their chapel opened in 1797. The split had occurred because
nonconformist views were still being explored and crystallised in
the century since its beginnings.
The chapel used some of the fabric of the old
gaol in its construction, despite this being where many early Exeter
Dissenters had been imprisoned. A slim section of land lay around
the chapel on several sides, to be used as a burial ground until
1854. A Sunday School building was added to the site in the
mid-1830s. Both that and the chapel became increasingly cramped so
in 1870 they moved to a new church at Southernhay. Today the old
chapel is the 'Timepiece' club.
St Bartholomew's Old Church stood
immediately inside the city wall where Boots now stands, on the
northern side of the High Street. The main entrance to this retail
block virtually marks the inner side of the East Gate. This
parochial church (which operated as a local church for a larger
parish) existed by 1243, by which time it had been annexed to St
John's Hospital opposite (below). It had to be rebuilt in 1459 when
the gate collapsed. Its final closure date is unknown.
St John's Hospital & Chapel stood on
the High Street's southern side, bounded by the city wall and the
East Gate (to the left of this steel line engraving). The hospital
was founded about 1239 by Gilbert and John Long, merchants.
Initially it apparently consisted of brethren and sisters. In 1240
the hospital of St Alexius on Gandy Street was united to it,
although it needed some urgent restoration work itself. It also
became decayed when Henry VIII deprived it of its revenues.
In 1623 it passed into private hands and was
fully restored becoming, in part, a school. Much of the hospital
was demolished in 1880 after the school had moved to a new site.
Any remnants were destroyed in 1942. Today the course of the city
wall at the East Gate lies along the left-hand side of the Eastgate
passage, shown here to the left. Hospital and chapel fronted the
High Street where the shops stand to the right, but continued all
the way back to Roman Walk.
Four photos on this page by P L Kessler. Additional
information from Discovering Exeter 7: Lost Churches, Exeter
Civic Society, 1995.