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Gallery: Churches of Devon

by Peter Kessler, 14 February 2020

Exeter Part 15: Churches of Belmot & St Matthew's

Polsloe Park Christian Chapel, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

Polsloe Park Christian Chapel stood at the north-west corner of Thurlow Road and Pinhoe Road. The OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914 shows a hall on this site, next to open ground on which would be built Mount Pleasant Methodist Church (now also gone). Polsloe Park chapel is also evident on the OS 1:10,560 map of 1949-1968. Precisely when the hall was turned into a chapel (or replaced by it) is unclear, as is its demolition. Today the site is now the car park shown here.

Church of St Mark, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

The Church of St Mark stands at the south-east corner of Pinhoe Road and St Mark's Avenue. With the population of the Polsloe Park estate growing, a mission was opened in Manston Road in 1901 (see below). A small red-brick St Mark's replaced it in 1910 on the same site, and this continued to be used as a church hall when the present building of St Mark's Church replaced it, with work starting  in 1935 and taking a few years. The design was by Ernest F Hooper of Exeter.

Pinhoe Road Baptist Church, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

Pinhoe Road Baptist Church occupies a relatively modest plot on the southern side of Pinhoe Road, flanked on its western side by Tarbet Avenue. The beginnings of the congregation here date to 1933 and the chapel building that was erected here bore very strong late Victorian influences (unfortunately largely hidden behind a small tree here). A new hall was added to the site, facing onto Tarbet Avenue, in the post-war period, and in a much more modern style.

Exeter Cemetery Chapels, Higher Cemetery, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

Exeter Cemetery Chapels (also known as Higher Cemetery, Heavitree), stand on the western side of the cemetery grounds, at the southern end of the St Mark's Road access point. The northernmost of the two chapels - slightly plain in style - is for nonconformists, while the southern one for Anglicans. The Anglican chapel has the bell cote seen here. Population growth of 1800s Exeter resulted in a dramatic increase in mortality, and the cemetery was opened in March 1866.

Manston Road Mission Chapel, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

Manston Road Mission Chapel was on the northern side of Manston Road. It opened here in 1901 to cater for a growing population. A small red-brick chapel dedicated to St Mark replaced it in 1910 on the same site, and this continued to be used as a church hall when it was replaced as a parish church by the present church of St Mark (see above). The mission grounds covered this entire section of new buildings, but the actual building was at the western (nearer) end.

St John's, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

St John's is at the south-west corner of Polsloe Road and Jesmond Road. The OS 25-inch map of 1892 names the building as 'St John's', without specifying its true nature. That it wasn't a church is only suggested by its lack of presence on other OS maps between the 1890s-1960s. What clinches the argument against is the publication in 1897 of a paper with the Royal Astronomical Society by Arthur W Clayden MA FGS of St. John's, Polsloe Road, plus an Historic England report.

Belmont Chapel, Belmont, Exeter, Devon

Belmont Chapel stands on the southern side of Western Way, overlooking the junction with Summerland Street. Western Way was a post-war construction, built partially along the alignment of the western half of Parr Street and bounded by a street that had largely been emptied of its Victorian buildings, either by wartime bombing or subsequent clearances. The chapel was one of the first buildings erected, by its independent evangelical nonconformist congregation.

Redeemed Christian Church of God, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

The Redeemed Christian Church of God occupies a long, v-shaped garden space inside the triangle formed by Clifton Road and Lower Summerlands. The first building on this site was erected as a parish room for the nearby new church of St Matthew (below), replacing temporary rented rooms elsewhere. The initial lease was for twenty-one years and an iron building (a 'tin chapel') was used. The present brick building replaced it many years later.

Church of St Matthew, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

The Church of St Matthew is on the southern side of Lower Summerlands, about forty metres east of the building that now serves as the Redeemed Christian Church of God (above) - formerly its parish room. The church was built in 1882 to serve a new parish (created in 1883) which took parts from St Sidwell and St James (see links). Its Early English-style red-brick body contains a chancel (of 1890), chapel nave, transepts, aisles, vestries, and a truncated western tower.

Exeter Christadelphian Church, Sidwell, Exeter, Devon

Exeter Christadelphian Church stands on the southern side of Heavitree Road, overlooking the junction with Clifton Road. There has been a Christadelphian church in Exeter since 1939. They began by meeting at the Oddfellows Hall in Catherine Street, followed by renting rooms in Cowick Street (Buller Hall), South Street and, finally, Hope Hall in Heavitree. In 1987 the present hall was purchased and has been the base for the city's Christadelphians ever since.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Additional information from Discovering Exeter 3: Heavitree, Trevor Falla, Exeter Civic Society, 1983.

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