Exeter has frequently been called the City of Churches, but few visitors to the "Ever Faithful City" realise what that means. The book before us, admirably produced in every way, enables us to form some idea of the manner in which the Church dominated the city in very early days.
"The Deanery of Christianity," the writer tells us, "includes all the parish churches of Exeter and its suburbs, with the neighbouring parish of Heavitree and that of Countess Weir. The three and thirty churches thus grouped together represent buildings of every date, from before the Conquest to the present day, when the church of St. Matthew remains uncompleted."
This sentence lets a little light upon the subject and brings before our minds the startling fact that many of the churches of Exeter have a very ancient origin and that the bulk of them have features of special interest to students of history and archaeology. So long ago as the time of William the Conqueror, Exeter had twenty nine parish churches and twenty five of these are familiar to us at the present day. Later, in 1222, the number was reduced to nineteen and in the time of the Parliament the number was again reduced to four. These were St. Petrock's, St. Mary' Major, St Mary Arches and St Edmund's. In the case of some of the others, the citizens of Exeter bought them in and a few years later, at the Restoration, they returned to their proper parochial uses, albeit somewhat damaged by the treatment they had received during the troublous times of the struggle between King and Parliament.
Without going into the individual history of each separate church, as recorded in this acceptable volume, it is sufficient to indicate that the talented author has given us a most concise and interesting history of all the ancient and some of the modern churches of Exeter and that the work is embellished by numerous pictures, being faithful representations of many of the most important ecclesiastical structures in Exeter, excepting, of course, the venerable cathedral. The book is brimful of information not only with respect to the history of the particular churches of Exeter, but also to their inner history, the monuments they contain and the associations connected with them.
Such work is of great importance and we are glad to add it to the multitude of works which have recently appeared dealing with the general and parochial history of Devon. The book is published by Mr James G. Commin, Exeter, and the price is 7s 6d.
*Notes on the History, Fabrics and Features of interest in the Churches of the Deanery of Christianity, Devon. By Beatrix F. Cresswell, Exeter, Commin, 1908.