There has probably been a place of worship on the top of the hill by the Heavitree Yew for over a thousand years. The certain record of priests serving there goes back into the 13th century. But most of the present building dates back to 1829 when the church was extensively rebuilt. It has a high ceiling, ornate stone carving and many fine examples of stained glass. It suits both formal and informal worship.


St Michael’s is a thriving worshipping community in the catholic tradition of the Church of England. Our worship is rich and liturgical with excellent music at its heart. The celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of our life together. The Sunday Mass at 10.30am is a family occasion with people of all ages represented. Children and their families are welcome as part of our worship and a Sunday School provides children of Primary School age with their own activities during the first part of the Mass.

It is always good to welcome new people to join in our worship – or in our various social and fundraising activities – come along and you will be sure of a warm welcome.

The church has been at the heart of the community of Heavitree for close to 1000 years (see history below) and we remain a place for the whole community. The Heavitree Friendly Library (link here?) has its home at St Michael’s and is a sociable place for young and old alike. The Tuesday Fellowship social group, bell ringers, the Heavitree Handbells, and a craft group also meet here regularly. Please get in touch if you would like more information about any of these activities.

We also regularly welcome children from St Michael’s School – with whom we have a strong connection – to hold their own acts of worship, as well as welcoming other school groups throughout the year.


Once upon a time, back in pre-Saxon times, the royal hunting ground of Wonford surrounded the settlement of Exeter. Gradually, during Saxon times parcels of land were given to various priories and Wonford was fragmented and grew smaller. St Michael’s Church is the heart of Wonford – it became Heavitree as it was the founding of a church near ‘Hefa’s’ or heafod treow (chief tree), which was corrupted into Heavitree. Heavitree grew in importance because the main London Road (now Heavitree Road) ran through the village, and Wonford became smaller and its influence diminished.

The earliest record of a church at Heavitree dates from 1152 when it was granted to Exeter Cathedral. It was altered in the 14th and rebuilt in the 15th century and then the church tower was rebuilt in 1541. The same year, it is said that the Heafod treow was felled.

Most of St Michael’s Church is Victorian – the nave was rebuilt, at a cost of £3,000 which was raised by subscription, and a grant of £500 from the Church Building Society, between 1844 and 1846. The architect, David Mackintosh used limestone, while retaining the Beer stone arcade and windows. It was consecrated on 1 August 1846. The limestone, Gothic tower was completed in 1887, in time for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and cost £3,155. There is not a trace of red Heavitree sandstone in the building. Parish records go back to 1556.

Sources: White’s 1850 and Kellys 1897.

Heavitree Hall Bookings

St Michael’s Church Hall is on Church Street near the church and the RD& E Hospital, it is suitable for bookings of up to around 50 people, it can be booked for one off meetings, parties or for regular bookings for band practice, group meetings and the like. The current cost is £15 per hour. Basic kitchen facilities are available. Please note that parking is on street and that there is stepped access.

Any booking inquiries should be made through Matt Lear – (01392 251135)