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HER Number:MDV88381
Name:St Andrews Church, Exwick


The church was built in 1841-42 as a chapel of ease. It was expanded and redecorated, with mosaic work, in the early 1870s.


Grid Reference:SX 908 936
Map Sheet:SX99SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishExeter

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Church of England HER: 4918

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHURCH (Built, XIX - 1841 AD to 1842 AD)

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359962.

Historic England, 2017, National Heritage List for England, 1223954 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359963.

The principal parts of the original church consist of the nave and chancel. The nave is quite tall for its size with a rather lower chancel. The style of the building is Geometrical, drawing on architectural motifs of the late 13th century, a time that was coming to be seen in the early 1840s as one which produced the finest architecture in the Middle Ages. The windows are of two (S elevation) and three (main W and E windows) lights. The nave and aisle windows all have a foiled circle in their heads. The chancel side windows have slightly more elaborate tracery which includes tear-drop-type elements but these windows are likely to be additions of 1873-4 as The Ecclesiologist's account of the church in 1843 criticised the lack of side windows in the chancel. The E window, no doubt of 1841-2 and reinstalled in the extended chancel, is the most ornate. It is copied from a window at Broughton in Oxfordshire and has within a large circle at the top a six-point star. The W window has three circles in the head. On the N side the aisle is slightly shorter than the nave. The outer doorway of the porch has three finely moulded orders with engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Over the W gable is a single-light bellcote. Over the door into the nave is a cusped triangular panel bearing in relief the words `This is none other than the House of GOD and this is the Gate of Heaven'. A further, painted inscription surrounds the head of the doorway arch.
The walls are plastered and whitened. The original, aisleless church was extended in 1873-4 by the addition of a three-bay N aisle. The arches have delicate moulding and quatrefoil marble piers which carry foliage capitals. The chancel arch is moulded and has no capitals. The roof over the nave is canted (four-sided) and has trusses of tie-beams and king-posts; it is divided into squares by moulded ribs. In the aisle the roof is similar. The chancel roof too is four-sided and has square panels but no tie-beams. The roofs are decorated all over. That in the chancel has angel and human figures and also various wonders of creation. The nave and aisle roofs are patterned. The side walls of the chancel have a painted frieze with foliage surrounding busts of angels: these are remnants of formerly more extensive decoration.
The reredos is original to the building of the 1840s church. It has a broad cusped panel behind the altar. Either side are pairs of ogee arches filling the E wall. The whole ensemble is richly treated with tall pinnacles, crockets and battlementing. The panels are filled with mosaic work of 1873 by Salviati: the central image is the Ascension, the flanking ones figures of the Apostles. The altar is of Painswick stone and is ornately and delicately carved: the principal motifs are three large quatrefoils depicting the Agnus Dei, a wreathed IHC emblem, and a hart drinking at a brook. The sanctuary is floored with patterned encaustic tiles. The pulpit, entered from a passage beside the vestry, is three-sided and has cusped blind arcading between a frieze at top and bottom. Over it is a stone canopy with ornate decoration. The font, of Painswick stone, is also richly carved and has an octagonal bowl with an inscription around the top above panels with groups of triple, cusped decoration. The nave seats have two tiers of decoration with pairs of cusped arches on each tier. The chancel furnishings date from the late 1950s. In the heads of the nave S windows is stained glass of the 1840s.
St Thomas's was built in 1841-2 as a chapel of ease within the parish of St Thomas to serve the fringes of a working class suburb of Exeter. The prime mover was the vicar of St Thomas, the Rev. John Medley, who was secretary of the newly-formed (1841) Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society (EDAS). EDAS was to do much to promote the type of church architecture and fittings that were being vigorously promoted by A W N Pugin and the immensely influential Cambridge Camden Society (CCS). It was the first such society founded outside Oxbridge. Although it now appears a modest building, St Andrew's was almost revolutionary in its day. It is of great architectural and historic importance in the early Victorian Gothic Revival because its design was faithful to medieval precedent and thus was in the vanguard of the new movement which can be seen as the architectural expression of the Oxford Movement.
The foundation stone was laid on 30 July 1841 and consecration by the bishop of Exeter took place on 26 September the following year. The CCS¿s polemical journal, The Ecclesiologist, gave the church a very long review and was full of praise for it. It said it `is an admirable example, not only of what a church ought to be, but also of the very moderate sum which is necessary for a really Catholick Building; the total expense in this case not exceeding £1,400.' It concluded `on the whole, we do not hesitate to pronounce this the best specimen of a modern church we have yet seen. Important survivals of the 1840s work, apart from the fabric, are the reredos, pulpit, font, stained glass and congregational seating.
When expansion of the church was needed in the early 1870s Hayward was called back. The work was financed by William Gibbs of Tyntesfield, Somerset, who had already paid for the impressive church of St Michael in Exeter. Gibbs also arranged for St Andrew's to become a separate parish. Hayward added the N aisle and lengthened the chancel although a projected steeple to the W of the aisle was never undertaken. The work was carried out in 1873-4 and from this time also date the splendid mosaic work in the reredos, and the decoration of the roofs. The decoration of the chancel walls was originally more extensive and most of this has, regrettably, been painted over.
Date first listed: 18th June 1974.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV359962Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2017. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #108916 ]
SDV359963National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2017. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1223954.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 4 2018 12:06PM