Boundary Wall

St Sidwell’s Community Centre is encircled by a stone wall, mainly constructed of Heavitree stone. Local historic buildings expert Stuart Blaylock surveyed the wall to try and give us an idea of its date. It is most likely that the wall was constructed during the 1812 rebuild of the church, with some later post war rebuilding.

Boundary Wall at Sidwell's Entrance

Here’s an extract from Stuart Blaylock’s report on the boundary wall:

The boundary wall on the Sidwell Street frontage is built of squared blocks of Permian breccia (sometimes called Heavitree stone) with a very occasional block or Permian volcanic trap (the purplish volcanic lava present at a number of sites in the immediate vicinity of Exeter).  The copings are of granite, with stooling for iron railings.  The wall has taller square piers with low pyramidal granite caps at the east end, and flanking the gateway, and there is evidence for a former pier at the west end (in the form of a scar in the masonry of the corner, now bodged up with rubble).  A notable detail is the use of slate and small pebbles for levelling in a horizontal joint just above the present pavement level.  There are also fragments of grey south Devon limestone in the same course, which form a useful dating indicator, since this material is rare in Exeter before the early 19th century.  I would say, therefore, that this boundary wall is likely to belong with the re-organisation of the churchyard on the rebuilding of the church in 1812 rather than being an earlier survival.  Earlier stone, of course, may be re-used in its fabric and both the breccia and volcanic trap components could be of earlier origin.  Similar, though less-well-coursed breccia facework continues onto the east wall for c.1.50m, here with breccia copings, before being succeeded by a more-recent rebuild in brick (perhaps late 19th century).”

At the north end of the west wall is a blocked gate, shown as a path with steps on the 1888–90 first edition of the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map, but not shown on the Tithe Map of c.1840.  The original gateway has brick piers with Portland stone plinths and capping; the blocking is in more modern brick.  This looks like a mid.- or later-19th century addition, perhaps blocked on the post-War reconstruction of the church (and reconfiguration of the graveyard).

Blocked Entrance to Sidwell's