Martyrs’ Pulpit

The pulpit in the Nave was erected in memory of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson who was ordained in Exeter Cathedral.

In 1855 Patteson left Britain for New Zealand and the Pacific islands of Melanesia. He devoted the rest of his life to the peoples of Melanesia, learnt more than 20 of their languages, and became their first Bishop. Sadly, he was murdered on the island of Nukapu in the Solomon Islands in 1871. The central pulpit panel depicts three islanders placing Bishop Patteson’s body in a canoe to be returned to his ship.

Another pulpit panel shows St Boniface setting sail from Britain to begin his missionary work in Europe. Boniface was born at Crediton, near Exeter, towards the ends of the 8th century. He was murdered in 754 at Dokkum, in Friesland. Known as the ‘Apostle of the Germans’, his burial place and shrine is in Fulda Cathedral, in Germany.

A third panel depicts the beheading of St Alban, the first British Christian martyr, around 300AD during the Roman occupation of Britain.

The figures of three early Christian martyrs are also carved on this pulpit: St Stephen, St John the Baptist and St Paul.

The detailed carvings give the impression that this pulpit is made of wood when it is actually made of a very evenly grained sandstone. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1870s.

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