A Prayer Pilgrimage: St Martin’s

The first church on this site was consecrated in 1065 by Bishop Leofric (who founded Exeter cathedral). Its tiny parish served the workers and traders who crowded into the houses in the surrounding streets. It has been under the care of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust since 1995. In 2016 it was fortunate to survive the threat of fire when the nearby Royal Clarence Hotel, along with other buildings in Cathedral Close, burned down.

3 points of prayer:
1) The communion rails at the east end of the church, enclosing the altar on three sides, were, according to a seventeenth-century order from the Archbishop of Canterbury, designed to prevent parishioners’ dogs reaching the altar.

2) The stone reredos dating from c. 1710, immediately behind the altar, is inscribed with the ten commandments, flanked on either side by a creed (a statement of Christian beliefs) and the traditional version of the Lord’s Prayer.

3) The monuments on the walls, of which there are many splendid examples, include one on the north wall (on the left when facing the altar) which commemorates Philip Hooper, an 18th century benefactor who donated the above-mentioned reredos. He kneels at a prayer desk with a pile of books, and with a skull as a memento mori.

1. The Altar Rail
Gracious God
I kneel in the knowledge that though I was not worthy,
I have through your grace been made worthy.
I bring before you all who believe themselves lost,
unworthy because of real or imagined faults;
may they come to know and accept that in your eyes
they too are of infinite worth.

2. The Ten Commandments

Holy God,
I struggle to read the set-in-stone commandments
flanked by the prayer taught by your Son
and the beliefs of your church.
But I obey, Lord: forgive my disobedience;
I pray, Lord; save my tongue from insincerity;
I believe, Lord: help me in my unbelief.

3. The Memorials
Eternal God,
as I read these reminders of the transience of life,
I recall our common mortality
and the unknown hour of our going.
I pray for all who are now facing their death,
and for myself for when that time comes,
that we may know the peace of your presence.


Click here to go to A Prayer Pilgrimage: St Petrock’s