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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Devon

by Peter Kessler & Rowena Kirkpatrick, 10 April 2020. Updated 27 June 2020

Exeter Part 20: Churches of Alphington, Marsh Barton & St Thomas

Alphington Church House, Alphington, Exeter, Devon

Alphington Church House was on the west side of Church Rd, overlooking the Dawlish Road junction. In Devon of the 1400s and early 1500s almost every parish had a church house in which church fundraisers were held. Most went out of use following the Reformation. This one was built to house men who were building the new church (see links) around 1480. It became the original Vernon Inn but this later burnt down. The village's first school replaced it.

Ide Lane Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Alphington, Exeter, Devon

Ide Lane Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is on the north side of Ide Lane, midway between the Denise Close and Myrtle Close turnings. The first Wesleyans here met in various private houses, noted in 1807 and 1818. In 1822 they had a rented room and another private address. A plot was purchased in 1836 and the chapel opened the same year, known as Alphington Chapel. Burdened with debt, it closed in 1866. The meeting found a new home on Chapel Road (below).

Chapel Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Alphington, Exeter, Devon

Chapel Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is on the northern side of the road, about forty metres west of the Church Road junction. After being forced to close the Ide Lane chapel in 1866 (above), the village's Wesleyans met in private houses until 1895. Then their new red-brick chapel was opened on land that had been leased from the Devon Estate. It remained in existence in 2012 but by January 2020 it had gone and the building was being used for other purposes.

St Mary de Marisco Priory, Marsh Barton, Exeter, Devon

St Mary de Marisco Priory could be found on the west side of Marsh Green Road North, with the core site (as shown by a late Victorian OS map) now occupied by Jewson Exeter buildings and yard. Also referred to as Marsh Barton Augustinian Priory, it was a small foundation that existed by 1142 as a cell of Plympton. It owned various parcels of land in Exeter but was dissolved in 1539 and was being demolished within thirty years. Some of its former buildings survived in 1815.

St Thomas' Baptist Church, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon

From Marsh Barton, a tour of the churches of the St Thomas district of Exeter begins with St Thomas' Baptist Church. This stands at the north-east corner of the Dorset Avenue and Somerset Avenue junction. It was founded in 1940 as an outreach for Bartholomew Street Baptist Church. It developed in the 1950s into a full worshipping congregation and ministry, and moved in 1963 to its present site on a mixed housing estate. The building was refurbished and extended in 2006.

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon

St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church is on the northern side of Dunsford Road, about seventy metres east of the junction with Bowhay Lane. A date of construction is unavailable but OS maps first show it in the post-war period, on grounds that were formerly nurseries. It closed around 2006 and lay empty for around two and-a-half years, gradually being vandalised, until it was converted into two private residences, 'Canterbury House' (left) and 'Tower House' (right).

St Philip's Church, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon

St Philip's Church was set back on the western side of Buddle Lane, at its southern end, with the buildings and grounds of Bowhill Primary School immediately behind it (visible to the left here) and to the south. This tin hut mission church was built in the 1920s to provide a place of worship for the newly-built estate here. Very basic in fashion, in winter it was draughty and cold. It was demolished towards the end of the twentieth century in favour of new housing.

St Thomas' Methodist Church, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon

St Thomas' Methodist Church stands inside a broad plot on the northern side of Cowick Street, about sixty metres east of the junction with Wardrew Road. A small United Methodist Free Church stood here in the late Victorian period, and is shown on the OS 25-inch map of 1892-1914. Following the Methodist union of 1932, the old chapel was demolished in favour of the present building being constructed on (or partially behind) the old site, to be opened in 1934.

Church of St Thomas the Apostle, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon

The Church of St Thomas the Apostle and the churchyard on its western flank occupy a place on the southern side of Cowick Street, approx a hundred metres east of the junction with Prospect Place. It inherited the dedication of St Thomas on the Bridge when the first building here was erected in 1412, but the 'Thomas Becket' was changed for 'the Apostle' during the Reformation. Destroyed by its Royalists defenders in 1645, the present building replaced it in 1657.

Cowick Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel / Cowick Road Hall, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon

Cowick Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel sits at the south-west corner of the Cowick Road and Church Road junction. It was erected before 1890, shown on the OS 25-inch map of that year. Around the First World War period the Salvation Army in Exeter expanded into several new sites, one being somewhere on Alphington Street, before moving to this location as Cowick Hall (shown on OS maps of the 1950s-1970s). Today Exeter Shotokan Karate Club meets here.

Seven photos on this page by P L Kessler, and three kindly contributed by Rowena Kirkpatrick of The Alphington Archives. Additional information by Steve Bulman of 'The Churches of Britain and Ireland', and from Historic Collections, relating to the Monasteries in Devon, George Oliver (of St Nicholas' Priory, Exeter (1820).



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