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Description:Although the core plan of St Petrock’s church consists of a simple two-cell nave and chancel, and thus may reflect an early-established plan of the church, no fabric of an early date has yet been observed in the walls of the church (including observations in August 2000). All the visible fabric is late medieval or later, and is heavily based on Permian breccia, including some very fine-jointed ashlar builds in the tower, which, in plan terms, is incorporated in the north-west corner of the nave. The original plan of the church, as has been implied above, could have an early origin; but may have been largely (or entirely) rebuilt when the first addition, of the south aisle was made c.1413; according to Dymond’s history of the church (Dymond 1882). Other contexts exist later in the 15th century for work on the body of the church, although mention of repairs to windows on both sides of the church in 1458 may indicate that the clerestory was in existence by that date (Shortt 1878, 5). The tower may well have been under construction in 1459-60, when damage to a neighbouring property was made good at the church’s expense, and there are payments for a new clock in 1470 which may reflect its completion (Dymond 1882, 23, 27). A second aisle, called the Jesus aisle, was added in the early 16th century (according to Dymond; consecrated in 1573 according to Cherry and Pevsner 1989, 394). There were further additions in 1587 and in 1828 (ibid.), before the whole church was turned through 90º when the present chancel was added in 1881 by Hayward; the resulting re-orientated plan is described by Cherry and Pevsner as ‘among the most confusing of any church in the whole of England’. The church was one of the most important in the city, and the only one to have a clerestory. By the 18th century houses had encroached on the north side of the church, hiding all but the tower from view; these houses were cleared, and neighbouring frontages cut back in 1905 (contemporary photographs are of use in interpreting what was done at this time: Thomas 1995, 137l WSL E/B/E 0117, 0118: Parker: forthcoming report on Archaeological observations at the church in 2000). The present appearance of the north side of the church is almost entirely due to work in the aftermath of this clearance in 1905. The church incorporated a right of way giving entry into the Close. Described in 1286 as ‘one postern in the middle of the church of St Petroc’ (Lega-Weekes 1915, 21), the route was maintained through the numerous alterations and additions to the church, and even survives in the present divided plan in which the aisles and the 19th century chancel are partitioned off from the nave and chancel, and used as a centre for the homeless (from 1996). The gate,, unlike the other gates of the Close, thus had no structural identity as such, but it was clearly regarded as a gate, and is mapped as such, for instance, on the Chamber Map Book of 1758 (REN 4332). For details of the restoration of the chancel in 1871, see REN 1246. Recording work in 2000 was taken into account in the original description, although one or two points need further comment as a result of the completion of the report. The dating of the outer aisle to 1573 (by Shorto and Dymond in their 19th century work on the church and followed by Cherry and Pevsner) is surely wrong (compare monument no. 11238), and the carvings of shield-bearing angels suggest that it is more likely to date to the early 16th century. The 2000 observations are described under archaeological intervention no. 15084, and the completed report is: Parker, R.W. 2000 Archaeological Recording at St. Petrock's Church, Exeter, Exeter Archaeology Report 00.90. Original description SRB, 30.viii.00; updated 16.v.03.

Extant: Yes
Grid reference:SX919925
Map reference: [ EPSG:27700] 291944, 92582
Periods:1300 - 1540
Identifiers:[ ADS] Depositor ID - 11132.0

People Involved:

  • [ Publisher] Exeter City Council

Bibliographic References:

  • Jenkins, A. (1806) The History and Description of the city of Exeter and its environs ancient and modern, pp. 365-6. Exeter.
  • -- (unknown) 'Exeter, St Petrox Church'
  • Trewman's Flying Post (1871) 'Church Restoration' in Trewman's Flying Post, 23.9.1871, pg(s)5c. Exeter.
  • Department of the Environment (1974) List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: District of Exeter, p. 131. Department of the Environment.
  • Parker, R.W. (2000) Archaeological Recording at St Petrock's Church, Exeter in Exeter Archaeology Report 00.90.. Exeter Archaeology.