God’s House, also known as Wynard’s Hospital, was founded in 1436. The plan comprises twelve two-storeyed almshouses for twelve poor men; the chapel of the Holy Trinity along the street frontage; and accommodation for the chaplain.
It was built of Heavitree Stone throughout, during the medieval period when the Heavitree quarries were at maximum production.
In 1643 during the Civil War the chapel and house were demolished, and Wynard’s was incorporated in extended earthwork fortifications around the City Walls. The chapel was restored in 1675, and the almshouses were rebuilt and altered in the 17th and 18th centuries. The layout followed the original 15th century plan. Some stone remained from the earlier structures, and more was reused in the rebuilding.
Wynard’s was restored to a medieval appearance in 1863-64. The entrance arch, the east end of the houses, and their upper storeys are all from this time. It continued as almshouses until the mid-20th century. After a brief (astonishing!) threat of demolition, it was restored again in 1973 as City Council offices, until the Council sold it for conversion to private houses.
With its eventful history, it is one of the most evocative pieces of medieval Exeter. Sadly, public access is now limited. However, the chapel was listed for sale in 2017, and the estate agent’s online app, with 360º and doll’s house views, is still available and well worth an explore.
- Exeter City Historic Environment Record, 1436-1540 – http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1816749&resourceID=1054
- Exeter City Historic Environment Record, 1650-1750 – http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1817076&resourceID=1054
- Historic England Listed Building – https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1239565
- Historic England Pastscape – https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=448423
- Exeter Memories – http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/_buildings/wynards.php
- 360º and doll’s house views – https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=qjYptJw1sqx
- Exeter City Historic Environment Record, 1640-1650 – http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1817189&resourceID=1054
- Nicholas Orme (2014) “The Churches of Medieval Exeter”