• The Arts and Crafts Garden, Talk by Jonathan Lovie, Thursday 20th February 2020 at 2.30 pm.
Devon Gardens Trust is devoted to the preservation and enhancement of gardens in the UK county of Devon

Dissenter's Graveyard

Magdalen Street, Exeter
Grid ref: 
SX 924 9235
Map no: 
Landranger 192
Type of site: 
Burial ground.

The graveyard lies just outside the city walls in the Southernhay and Friars Conservation Area. Three other nonconformist burial grounds lie within close proximity to the site. These include the Quaker and Wesleyan burial grounds (to the north) and the Jewish burial ground (to the west). The burial ground lies within the Exeter City Area of Archaeological Importance and is included in the schedule of buildings of local importance.  The Dissenters’ burial ground is considered to be a heritage asset of high local significance. 

The Dissenters’ Graveyard was in use between 1747-1853 by the congregation of George’s Meeting House in South Street, a dissenting group of Presbyterians then Unitarians.  During this period Exeter underwent major social, economic and political upheaval, members of this dissenting community such as Samuel Kingdon (father of ‘Iron Sam’) and Micaijah Towgood, who are buried in the cemetery, were key influential figures. The site lies on level ground above the flood plain of the River Exe on the western edge of the Shutebrook Valley, a former tributary of the River Exe. The underlying solid geology of the area is Breccia of the Dawlish Sandstone Formation (BGS 1995).  The north and south boundary walls of the graveyard are the original 1747 brick walls built, but the southern wall was largely rebuilt in modern brick in the 1980s. The site is overlooked by the Grade II listed former Eye Infirmary to the west and by Park View flats, built in the 1980s, to the east.  Bull Meadow Park lies immediately to the south.  The monuments, headstones and other grave markers were first recorded during 1984 as part of a Manpower Services Commission (MSC) project. During the November 2010 survey, 83 visible grave markers were recorded; these comprised 17 tombs/vaults, 2 obelisks, 36 headstones, and 28 foot or flat laid headstones. Most of the markers are broken and in a poor state of disrepair, while a number of these have been moved since the MSC project and propped up against the west and southern walls of the cemetery. There are two obelisk shaped tombs, one of which contains the remains (amongst others) of Samuel Kingdon, father of ‘Iron Sam’ Kingdon, foundry owner, the first Conservative Mayor of Exeter in 1836 and founder of the modern city of Exeter.

The burial ground is in private ownership.

The graveyard in 2013 - overgrown and a target for restoration.
Arched gateway into the graveyard and the poor state of the walls.
Conservation Area: 
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: 
Area of Great Landscape Value: 
Nature Conservation Zone: 
Coastal Preservation Area: 
National Park: 
Ordnance Survey 1932 revision scale 1:2500.
Archaeology and cultural heritage assessment of The Dissenters’ Burial Ground. Tanya James MA.
on Devon Gazetteer