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Review: The Churches of Medieval Exeter by Nicholas Orme

PUBLISHED: 14:51 26 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:51 26 May 2015

The Churches of Medieval Exeter Book Cover

The Churches of Medieval Exeter Book Cover

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Annette Shaw reviews The Churches of Medieval Exeter by Nicholas Orme

Nicholas OrmeNicholas Orme

Medieval Exeter was a religious city containing nearly seventy churches, chapels, monasteries, and almshouses, as well as private oratories, holy wells, and standing crosses. This book explains why this huge number of buildings came into being from about the eleventh century onwards. It shows what they existed to do and how they interacted with one another and with lay people in the old walled city and the surrounding areas of St Thomas, Heavitree, and Topsham.

The general history of the churches is followed by detailed accounts of each one. These explain when they were founded and what we know about their sites, layouts, activities, and social history, with intriguing pictures of many long-vanished buildings. The result is one of the most thorough explorations of any aspect of Exeter’s past. It is also a major contribution to urban history and religious history in England, comparable with the best studies of similar cities elsewhere.

Nicholas Orme has been professor of History at Exeter University and an honorary canon of Truro Cathedral. The Churches of Medieval Exeter is the final part of a detailed survey of religion in the South West of England, which has included Cornwall and the Cross (Phillimore, 2007), Exeter Cathedral: The First Thousand Years, and The Church in Devon 400–1560 (Impress Books, 2009 and 2013).

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