St Martin's Church, Exeter, Devon

Address: Cathedral Close, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1EZ
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Open Monday to Friday from 9.30am - 4.30pm and Saturdays from 10.00am to 5.00pm
Keyholder information, accessibility and facilities

A thousand-year-old church in the heart of modern Exeter

St Martin’s props up the black-and-white building of Mol’s Coffee House on a corner of Exeter’'s historic Cathedral Close. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, consecrated a year before the Norman Conquest, and was once one of six churches clustered in the cathedral’s shadow.

It is the most important and complete church in the centre of Exeter, having escaped both Victorian refurnishing and the Second World War bombing which severely damaged many other Exeter churches. The first church on this site was consecrated on 6 July 1065 by Bishop Leofric, the same bishop who founded the cathedral in Exeter. Its tiny parish –- smaller than the size of a football pitch –- served the workers and traders who crowded into the three- and four-storey houses in the surrounding streets.

The roughcast exterior of red volcanic stone with bright, white Beer stone windows makes it look a little bit like a fancy gingerbread house. Inside, it is simple and full of light. Look out for the communion rails with their closely set balusters designed, according to a 17th-century order from the Archbishop of Canterbury, to keep parishioner's’ dogs from reaching the altar!

The gallery has painted on it the arms of the city and of Bishop Trelawny, a local hero in Cornwall, who was imprisoned for libel by James II. There are also several magnificent monuments in the church including one of Philip Hooper (a benefactor who donated the reredos) - splendidly bewigged, he kneels at a prayer desk with a skull and pile of books.

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How to find us

To locate this church on a map, click on the 'View on map' link that appears below the address information at the top of the page.

Road directions

Cathedral Close

Public transport information

Nearest railway stations: Exeter Central (5 minute walk), Exeter St Davids (15 minute walk) or a 5 minute bus ride. Exeter bus and coach station approx 7 minute walk. Bus route numbers 173/360.

OS Reference No.

SX 922 926

What’s on & news

News

06/01/14 We would like to warn all our volunteers and visitors to take care when visiting our churches due to the…

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

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Image gallery

Click on images to view larger

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Useful information

Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church and the CCT before you visit?

You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.

 

 

 

PDF iconCornwall, Devon & Dorset County Guide (PDF, 4.5mb)

This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches CCT cares for in Cornwall, Devon & Dorset. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Have you visited this church?

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Comments

  1. Barry Ames (21 Jan 2013, 22:12)

    I visited this lovely church last week, I thought I was the only one there until I saw a man in the front pew trying to avoid my gaze. It transpired he was homeless and destitute, he used the church as shelter against the cold. He was clean and did not use drink or drugs as a crutch to lean on . He was just a victim of circumstances but refused to ask for anything. He could not find shelter or work. I wished him well and went over to the beautiful Cathedral. At the door, I was asked for £4 to visit, it helps to provide for the choir and organ, the overdressed lady with the blue rinse said. I replied that I didn't wish to pay and left, thinking of the poor man across the close with nothing. I went to give him the £4, but he had gone.
    Do I pay for the Cathedral and it's beauty or give to the pauper? I know what the lady with the blue rinse would have done.

  2. Alan Green (11 Oct 2013, 10:48)

    We tried to visit St Martin's Exeter on September 10th and it was locked at 10a.m. and at 11. Several people tried to enter while we were in the area but had to leave. This church is in a very touristic area and clearly visible from the Cathedral Close. It seems a pity, but I expect there was some simple reason. Also please stop using those irritating captcha codes which failed to work for me twice

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Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

Community information for St Martin's Church, Exeter

 

All our Devon churches are in CCT’s West region.

Useful local links

Visit Devon tourism website 

Devon tourism website 

Devon Family History Society 

Devon History Society 

Devon Historic Churches Trust 

List of churches in Devon 

Devon is in the Diocese of Exeter

Donate by text

Last year, we welcomed over two million visitors to our churches. If each person donated just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Close up of a mosaic at St Peter, Northampton

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now (free from all networks).

Or use the button below to donate online.

Donate online

St Martin's Church, Exeter, Devon

Keyholder

If the access information for this church is listed as 'Keyholder nearby', this means that the key is kept by one of our invaluable volunteer 'keyholders', who usually live just a short walk from the church and can give visitors the key; sometimes this is a nearby hotel, pub, library, art gallery or other venue. You will find instructions explaining how to get the key when you arrive at the church.

Disabled access

There is a level entry direct from the street.

Facilities

Due to the historic nature of our buildings, only a very small number of them have heating or running water meaning that they can be cold, and very rarely have toilet facilities. The lighting is usually operated via a 'push button' timer or a motion sensor. We do apologise for any inconvenience the lack of facilities may cause.