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Description:For the foundation and earliest phases of construction of St Martins, see the monument description of MD2 (Monument No. 11001). Recent work on the church has shown that much of the basic plan of the church probably survives from a phase contemporary with its dedication in 1065; this has transformed the understanding of its structural history from considering it entirely 15th century in date (Cresswell 1908, 86) to an interpretation whereby the earlier building was remodelled and the tower added in the 15th century (Blaylock and Westcott 1989; Cherry and Pevsner 1989, 391). More recent work on the west wall of the church (also though to be entirely rebuilt to contain the Perpendicular window in 1989: Blaylock and Westcott 1989,121), in 1996 showed the possibility of some early fabric there as well (sketch and notes by Richard Parker in EA archives). Nevertheless the ancient fabric is heavily patched with more modern material (especially Permian breccia), which where it appears is a useful indicator of later patching or rebuilding. It thus looks as though the simple two-celled plan of the earlier church was remodelled in the 15th century by the addition of the tower, which also formed a transept on the north side of the nave, and by the insertion of large Perpendicular windows in the west wall and the south wall of the nave. Both windows retain fragments of medieval glass, including the arms of Bishop Edmund Lacy (1420-55), but also the Courtenay arms, perhaps for Bishop Peter Courtenay (1478-86: Cresswell 1908, 86-7). From the reference to Bishop Lacy presenting a window to the church (ibid., 86) it seems reasonable to date this work in his episcopate. The tower, of course, could belong to a different phase, but this too is likely to be of broadly mid- or late-15th century date. The east wall of the chancel appears to have been rebuilt, there is no evidence for its date, although this too could have been another late-medieval alteration. The church contains a good collection of post-medieval furnishings and memorials, especially the late 17th century altar rails enclosing the altar on three sides; the west gallery of similar date (possibly slightly later, with the arms of Bishop Trelawny, 1688-1707); and the reredos of c.1710, with the arms of Bishop Offspring Blackall (1708-16). The whole ensemble, with contemporary pulpit and box pews, and a collection of grand monuments (especially that to Philip Hooper, d.1715), make an unusually complete interior (Cherry and Pevsner 1989, 391;’ Cresswell 1908, 87-8).

Extant: Yes
Grid reference:SX921926
Map reference: [ EPSG:27700] 292106, 92656
Periods:1300 - 1540
Identifiers:[ ADS] Depositor ID - 11109.0

People Involved:

  • [ Publisher] Exeter City Council

Bibliographic References:

  • -- (c.1895) 'Cathedral Close, Exeter'
  • Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit (1987) Report to Exeter Archaeological Advisory Committee, 5.6.87, p. 9. Exeter City Council.
  • Blaylock, S.R., & Westcott, K.A. (1987) St Martin's Church, Exeter: Recording of the south wall of the nave 1987 in EMAFU Report No. 88.01. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit.
  • Department of the Environment (1974) List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: District of Exeter, p. 26. Department of the Environment.
  • Jenkins, A. (1806) The History and Description of the city of Exeter and its environs ancient and modern, pp. 316-7. Exeter.
  • Stukeley, W. (1776) Itinerarium Curiosum Vol. 1, p. 158
  • Blaylock, S.R., & Westcott, K.A. (1989) 'Late Saxon fabric in St Martin's Church, Exeter' in Proc. Devon Archaeol. Soc. 47, pg(s)119-22. Devon Archaeological Society.
  • Trewman's Flying Post (1825) 'St Martin's Church' in Trewman's Flying Post, 14.7.1825, pg(s)4b. Exeter.
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J., Gaimster, D.R.M., & Barry, T. (1988) 'Devon, Exeter. 26. St Martin's Church', pp. 238-39 in 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987' in Medieval Archaeol. 32, pg(s)255-314. Society for Medieval Archaeology.
  • Cresswell, B.F. (1908) The Churches of Exeter, pl. opposite p. 86. Exeter.
  • Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit (1988) Report to Exeter Archaeological Advisory Committee, 4.3.88, p. 5; Fig. 2. Exeter City Council.
  • Trewman's Flying Post (1871) 'St Martin's Church' in Trewman's Flying Post, 12.7.1871, pg(s)5e. Exeter.
  • Woolmer's Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (1867) 'Our City IV. St Martin's Church' in Woolmer's Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 25.10.1867, Supplement. Exeter.