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.
Zoar Chapel stood at the eastern end of
Longbrook Terrace, described as being 'at the corner...', on the
southern side next to No 11 (now gone but No 10 survives - the
cream-colored house, centre). An early 1900s motor works stood at
the corner itself. The chapel was built by Strict Particular
Baptists. They left after the 1870s and in 1883 the Plymouth
Brethren took over. By 1983 they were the Isca Christians,
but the chapel was demolished between then and 2009.
First Church Christ Scientist stands flush
against the pavement on the eastern side of Longbrook Street, around
forty metres south of the Queen's Crescent junction and just one
side-street away from Zoar Chapel (see above). This chapel was built
into the garden of Harry Hems' Queen Anne Flemish chapel-like
monument next door which now serves as 'Harry's' restaurant amongst
other multipurpose uses. The present chapel building was erected in
St Sidwell's Chapel & Community Centre
occupies a deep-set plot on the northern side of Sidwell Street and
partially overlooking the junction of Cheeke Street. The first church
on this site was Saxon, built as an overflow for St Michael &
All Angels Heavitree (see links). It was rebuilt in the Gothic style
during the building boom at the start of the 1400s. In 1812 it was
rebuilt again, as depicted in this print of 1845 which appeared in
the Illustrated London News.
The 1812 rebuild was in the neo-Gothic style to a
design by William Burgess. The church reopened in 1813. In 1823 the
tower was repaired and given an octagonal spire. Yet another rebuild
was necessitated by the fact that the 1812 building had been almost
completely blown apart by a German heavy bomb during the Exeter
Blitz of 1942. The present version was erected in 1957-1958 during
which services were held in a Nissan hut. A tower was too
Exeter Seventh-Day Adventist Church is on
the north side of King William Street (formerly Church Lane), almost
directly behind St Sidwell's Chapel (see above). A mission was held
at the Savoy (later ABC) cinema on five Sundays running in 1938. A
derelict property was acquired in Church Lane for a meeting place in
1940 on part of what, until 1854, was a graveyard, presumably for St
Sidwell's, and then a green space. In 1977 the property was fully
rebuilt and rededicated.
Eight photos on this page by P L Kessler. Additional
information from Discovering Exeter 7: Lost Churches, Exeter
Civic Society, 1995, from The Route Book of Devon, Second
Edition, Anonymous (Henry Besley of Exeter, circa 1846,
available via The Victorian Maps of Devon website), and from
Discovering Exeter 4: Pennsylvania and Discovering Exeter
5: Sidwell Street, both Hazel Harvey, Exeter Civic Society, 1984.