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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Devon

by Peter Kessler, 10 April 2020. Updated 5 June 2020

Exeter Part 17: Churches of Heavitree & South Wonford

St Michael & All Angels Church House, Heavitree, Exeter, Devon

St Michael & All Angels Church House, Heavitree, is on the east side of Church Street, opposite the entrance to St Michael's Church (see links). Almost every fifteenth and sixteenth century Devon parish had a church house where people met for church ales (effectively fundraisers for the church), parties, and meetings. Most went out of use following the Reformation. This one was clearly demolished in the late 1700s in favour of the present building which bears the name.

Exeter School Chapel, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

Exeter School Chapel is on the immediate eastern flank of the main building, and the eastern side of the main access road from Manston Terrace, just visible from the main gates (at the northern edge of this photo). The school traces its origins from the opening of the Exeter Free Grammar School on 1 August 1633. It became the city's school, which soon occupied the buildings of St John's Hospital. The school and chapel moved to its present site at Victoria Park Road in 1877.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, South Wonford, sits inside a large compound on the southern side of Wonford Road opposite Nuffield Health Exeter Hospital, a short way west of Barrack Road. This was the site of Old Matford house in the late Victorian period in an otherwise green and pleasant part of South Wonford. The house was demolished after the First World War and small private residences erected. Not all of those survived the Second World War.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Chapel, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Chapel, Wonford, lies in the centre of the enclosed grounds of Wonford House Trust Headquarters, on the northern side of Dryden Road. The chapel and the large building that encloses it on three sides were all once part of Wonford House Lunatic Asylum. The RD&EH took over the site (and another at Heavitree) when it left its original home at Southernhay, moving here in 1974 while the original Southernhay chapel was demolished.

Hope Road Baptist Chapel, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

Hope Road Baptist Chapel sits on the southern side of the narrow Hope Road (formerly Muddy Lane) at its northern end, and about twenty metres east of the Wonford Street junction. The street itself was renamed for the chapel which was built in 1905. After just twenty-six years the Baptists moved to their current location in 1931 (see below), which had a much larger capacity for a growing congregation. Today the old chapel is Nannybears nursery and pre-school.

Wonford Baptist Chapel, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

Wonford Baptist Chapel (now part of the South West Baptist Association) is on the west side of Wonford Street, approximately midway between the Kent Close and Carlisle Road junctions. Largely utilitarian with moderate traces of decoration, it was erected in 1931 to replace the previous chapel on Hope Road (see above). Today it is part of a diverse group of around ninety churches covering Devon, Cornwall, southern Somerset, and a small part of Dorset.

St Loye's Church (Anglican), South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

St Loye's Church (Anglican) sits at the north-east corner of the Wonford Street and Salters Road junction in Wonford. It is shown on the OS six-inch map of 1904 as an infant school. It was still serving as such in the inter-war years, but the 1952 OS shows that it had been repurposed after the war - by 1950 - for this growing suburb. It is still labelled as 'PW' (place of worship) in 1989 but has since been closed and converted into the private residences of 1-4 Ruby Court.

Wonford Methodist Church, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

Wonford Methodist Church is on the north-east corner of the Burnthouse Lane dog-leg at the road's eastern end, where it adjoins Wonford Street to the north and Rifford Road to the east. Methodism emerged in Exeter in the late seventeenth century, seemingly at the North Gate Chapel, although it was at least initially labelled as Presbyterian. That was replaced by the 'Ten Cells' Meeting in 1769-1779 and then Musgrave's Alley Chapel from 1779.

Wonford Methodist Church, South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

The Mint Meeting was established in 1813. By the mid-twentieth century the city was expanding south and westwards. South Wonford in the late Victorian period was covered in orchards or woodland plantations - only partially cleared during the inter-war years. The site of Wonford's church was readied around the same time. The main building (to the left) was up by the time the Second World War was over. The hall at the back came later, possibly several decades later.

City Community Church (The Ludwell Centre), South Wonford, Exeter, Devon

City Community Church (The Ludwell Centre) can be found at the south-west corner of Ludwell Lane and Burnthouse Lane in South Wonford. The Salvation Army opened what was termed an 'outpost' on Burnthouse Lane, possibly by the 1920s. It's unclear whether this is the same building, but it certainly existed earlier than most buildings in this area, all of which were erected in the middle twentieth century to house the city centre's crowded West Quarter population.

Nine photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one by Exeter School. Additional information by Dr Helen Wilson and Steve Bulman of 'The Churches of Britain and Ireland'.



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