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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Devon

by Peter Kessler, 14 February 2020

Exeter Part 14: Churches of St Sidwell's & Belmont

Exeter Spiritualist Centre & Healing Group, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

Exeter Spiritualist Centre & Healing Group occupies a small plot on the western side of York Road, overlooking the junction with Oxford Road on the opposite side of the road. In the late Victorian period this part of the road was occupied by smaller individual buildings clustered around a central courtyard which ran right through the centre of the present building. OS maps show this was cleared early in the twentieth century but the church building was a post-war construction.

Sidwell Street Methodist Church, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

Sidwell Street Methodist Church stands on the northern side of Sidwell Street, around thirty metres east of the junction with York Road. A mission church is shown on this site the OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914 and Methodists have been worshipping around here since the 1830s. A hall as a combined chapel and Sunday School was built in 1896 to serve a growing congregation. When a larger purpose-built chapel was required the present building was opened in 1905.

St Anne's Chapel, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

St Anne's Chapel stands inside the eastern 'v' formed by the junction between Old Tiverton Road and Blackboy Road - a once-important junction for all points to Tiverton and Pinhoe respectively. There once stood here a small hermitage that was annexed to a small chapel, either for St Anne or St Agnes - both seem to have been used and the nearby St Anne's Well (137 metres to the north) may have been linked to it. The chapel is known to have been rebuilt in 1418.

St Anne's Orthodox Church, Prophet Elias Parish, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

After the Dissolution it was purchased by Oliver and George Mainwaring, In 1561, 1570, and 1617 their family endowed parts of it as almshouses. Extensive restoration work was undertaken in 1907-1910 by removing a house which was partly within the chapel, demolishing the chaplain's house, and rebuilding two almshouses. The building is currently (2019) on load to the Greek Orthodox community as St Anne's Orthodox Church, 'Prophet Elias Parish'.

St James Free Church, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

St James' Free Church stood at the top of Grosvenor Place, on its eastern side. At the time of building the chapel was firmly part of a Grosvenor Place that ended behind the shops on Blackboy Road, with a connecting footpath between them. It was only wartime damage and later road-widening that brought the site into full view of Blackboy Lane. It's unclear when the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion built their chapel on this site, or when they formed this congregation.

Christ Church Free Church, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

The Fore Street congregation of the Free Church of England (see links) swapped that meeting place for the expensive, overlarge Southernhay Chapel in 1846. Soon finding it too large for their numbers and with its ownership taken out of their hands they left it to a Presbyterian group and joined the members of St James (above) to form Christ Church Free Church. The chapel was destroyed by bombing in 1942 but the present modest building replaced it in 1957.

Belmont Park Hall or Silver Street Hall, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

Belmont Park Hall (possibly also known as Silver Street Hall), was on the east side of the north-south run of Silver Street (now 'lane') as it leaves the junction with Blackboy Road. The hall seems not to have had any religious connections until the Salvation Army arrived in the immediate post-First World War years. Their missions were and are often short term, and this one ended when the hall closed in the mid-1920s. Today a five-story tower block sits on the site.

St James's Church Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

St James's Church Sidwell was on the northern side of St James' Road (formerly Cake Lane), towards the back of the community playground and car park, immediately east of what was St James (infants) School of 1907 and is now (2019) 'the park', part of St James' Park football ground for Exeter City Football Club. The church was built in 1836 to replace St James Old Church in the city. It was destroyed by bombing and was replaced in 1956 by St James Stoke Hill.

Toronto Road Mission Church, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

Toronto Road Mission Church is at the west end of the bottom arm of Toronto Road's reversed L-shape, largely hidden along the passageway to Old Tiverton Road. Toronto Road was built in the 1890s, its bay windows and tiled, pointed porches making superior homes for engine drivers, accountants, journalists, carpenters, librarians, and policemen. The mission church is shown on late Victorian OS maps, but it appears to have ceased in use by the 1940s.

Mount Pleasant Methodist Church, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

Mount Pleasant Methodist Church stood at the north-east corner of Pinhoe and Mount Pleasant roads. The 25-inch OS map of 1892-1914 shows only a hall on the adjacent site, immediately to the east (which became Polsloe Park Christian Chapel - see links). The church is evident on the post-war OS maps, having been built in 1910. Falling attendances in the 1960s meant that it was closed and then demolished in 1971 to make way for the Watermere Court tower block.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Additional information from Discovering Exeter 5: Sidwell Street, Hazel Harvey, Exeter Civic Society, 1986.



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