St. Mary Steps, Exeter

St. Mary Steps is a parish church in Exeter, located just inside the Roman city wall. It is best known for its old clock.


History of St. Mary Steps

St. Mary Steps Church was built c.1150 and rebuilt in the 15th century. It was probably originally known as St. Mary Minor.

What to See at St. Mary Steps

The red-stone church stands on West Street and Stepcote Hill, a steep and narrow cobblestone path that was once the main road into Exeter from the west. It is surrounded by picturesque Tudor houses.

Most of the present building dates from the 15th-century reconstruction and is made of red Heavitree sandstone. It consists of a main hall, a corner tower with clock and a Late Gothic nave. There are the remains of a rood screen which stood in the demolished church of St. Mary Major.

Among the few Norman remains from the original building are the round arched windows and the font with zigzag carvings. The ornate font cover, altar and nave screen were all carved by Harry Hems in the 19th century.

St. Mary Steps is best known for the old clock on its tower, called the Matthew the Miller Clock. Made in 1619-21 by the Exeter craftsman Matthew Hoppin and restored in 1980, it has a dial with designs representing the four seasons and a niche with a seated figure of King Henry VIII flanked by two guards. On the hour, the guards each strike a bell while Henry nods. The clock is named after a local miller named Matthew who passed the clock at the same times every day.

Quick Facts on St. Mary Steps

Site Information
Names:Church of St Mary Steps · St. Mary Minor · St. Mary Steps
Styles:Romanesque; Gothic
Dedication: Virgin Mary
Dates:c.1150; rebuilt 15th C
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:50.719896° N, 3.534730° W
Address:West Street
Exeter, England
Lodging:View hotels near St. Mary Steps
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Personal visit (exterior only; July 21, 2007)
  2. St. Mary Steps Church - Exeter Memories
  3. The Rough Guide to England, 7th ed. (May 2006), 429.
  4. St. Mary Steps - GENUKI

More Information

© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes

Map of St. Mary Steps, Exeter

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