Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson

Tuesday 14th September 2021 - Tuesday 21st September 2021

Together with the Anglican Diocese of Exeter and the Melanesian Mission UK, Exeter Cathedral held some special events to mark the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson.


Commemorative Service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Midday, Saturday 18 September, Exeter Cathedral

The commemorative Eucharist service was led by Archbishop Justin Welby and attended in person by nearly 300 (places were limited due to social distancing). More than 600 viewed the service through the video link.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch the service on the Diocese of Exeter Facebook page here.

Scroll down for more detail about the celebrations that took place to commemorate Bishop John Coleridge Patteson.


Official Opening of Patteson’s Way by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Saturday 18 September, St Andrew’s, Feniton

Archbishop Justin Welby officially opened Patteson’s Way, a new 12-mile route created in honour of Patteson.

The circular pilgrimage route begins and ends at St Andrew’s Church in Feniton, taking in several locations significant in Patteson’s life.

It is a joint initiative between the Diocese of Exeter and the Melanesian Mission UK (MMUK), of which Archbishop Justin Welby is President.

During his visit, Archbishop Justin walked part of the route with local families before preaching at a special service at Exeter Cathedral.

Photos by Huw Riden and Cassie Long.

To learn about the work of Melanesian Mission, please click here.


Talk by Dr Robert Guyver organised by the Friends of Exeter Cathedral
The Life and Legacy of John Coleridge Patteson: Missionary, Bishop and Martyr
Thursday 16 September 2021

Robert Guyver joined us to present a more nuanced truth about John Coleridge Patteson, telling the story of Patteson’s missionary and maritime adventures but steering a middle way between enthusiastic biographies and more contemporary critical accounts.

Robert, who is Secretary of the Exeter Branch of the Historical Association, visited some of the
places associated with Patteson whilst on a short secondment to New Zealand in 2007.


Patteson Exhibition: The Life of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson
14-21 September, Exeter Cathedral

We’re so grateful to everyone that joined us to learn more about Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, his early life in Devon, his travels around Europe, and his missionary work on the islands of the South Pacific. Our exhibition set out information about Patteson’s campaign to supress slavery and ‘blackbirding’ – kidnapping people to work on plantations – and explored the mystery surrounding his early death.


An Introduction to Bishop John Coleridge Patteson

Patteson grew up in Feniton in East Devon and went to school in Ottery St Mary before attending Eton and then Oxford.

By September 1854, he had been ordained a priest at Exeter Cathedral and had been recruited by George Augustus Selwyn, the first Bishop of New Zealand as a missionary to the South Seas.

Patteson was consecrated the first Bishop of the Diocese of Melanesia and head of the Melanesian Mission In 1861 and was martyred on the island of Nukapu in September 1871.

The Diocese of Exeter retains strong links with the Anglican Province of Melanesia (which includes the South Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia).

Christians in the islands still revere Patteson as a martyr and many regard his family home and churches in Devon as places of pilgrimage.

You can read more about Patteson and his life here.

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