The Patteson's Way pilgrimage was created by The Melanesian Mission and is supported by Devon Pilgrim to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, first Bishop of Melanesia.
Patteson’s Way is a circular route that starts and ends at St Andrew’s Church in Feniton. The route takes you from Feniton, where Patteson grew up, to Alfington where he served as a Curate in 1853 until his calling to mission in Melanesia. You then travel on to Ottery St Mary, where his relatives still live today. Then, pausing to reflect at Patteson’s Cross on the way, you return to Feniton.
Along the route you will visit many things of interest commemorating John Patteson’s life and work. However, as a personal pilgrimage of significance to us as individuals today, it also offers opportunities for prayer for ourselves and the people of Melanesia today, and an invitation to reflect on Patteson’s commitment and our own links with the people of those islands today as we face the impact of the climate crisis.
Please note that some of Patteson’s Way is along lanes and roads with varying levels of traffic. Hi-vis advised for all road sections with no pavements.
Stage 1: Feniton to Alfington
Your pilgrimage begins at the family church of John Coleridge Patteson, in Feniton Old Village. St Andrew’s Church is where Patteson worshiped with his family and is next to the house where he grew up. From here you begin your journey walking in the footsteps of Patteson to the church where he served his curacy in Alfington.
Stage 2: Alfington to Ottery St Mary
Seeing where Patteson began his ministry you then cross fields and walk on country lanes to Ottery St Mary, with its exceptional ‘parish’ church modelled on Exeter Cathedral. At Ottery you will learn more about Patteson’s family connections to the poet Coleridge and see where, as a young boy he started his schooling.
Stage 3: Ottery St Mary to Patteson's Cross
As you walk on from Ottery you appreciate the ultimate sacrifice Patteson made, leaving his home and family in Devon to become a missionary in the pacific. Patteson’s Cross is one of many memorials you will see on this pilgrimage to the martyrdom of John Coleridge Patteson.
Bust of Bishop Patteson
This rather stern bust of Patteson use to live in Lambeth Palace, but now has come back to his home church to cast its gaze on pilgrims and visitors and locals alike. So what do you think Patteson would say to us, to you, if he could?
Model Melanesian canoe
The model of a traditional Melanesian canoe (brought back from the Solomon Islands). Often in their worship today, the bible is brought into the church on such a canoe (scaled up) – because the Gospel was brought to them by canoe.
Melanesian Chapel (Ottery St Mary)
Go to the side chapel on the South East end of the church – St Stephen’s Chapel. There you will see a frontal inspired by the connection with Patteson and Melanesia. It is sited in St Stephens Chapel, so that next to the martyrdom of Stephen, Patteson is remembered, and more recently seven brothers of the Melanesian Brotherhood, a religious community whose founder was inspired by Patteson, who in 2003, gave their lives in their efforts to bring peace during the civil unrest in the Solomon Islands.
Patteson’s murder on Nukapu with two of his colleagues was thought to be a revenge attack, after five young men from the island were kidnapped by ‘Blackbirders’, slavers recruiting for the Queensland or Fiji Plantations. His death resulted in such an outcry around the world that the Blackbirders’ trade was stopped. Then within two years after Patteson’s death, this monument was erected in 1873. It was designed by William Butterfield, the famous Victorian church architect, who designed not only Alfington Church, but much of the Victorian reordering of Ottery church. Butterfield also happened to be a personal friend of Patteson. Though re-sited from its original position, it was erected as a public witness, deliberately next to the then main road to the west.
St Andrew’s Church, Feniton
Patteson grew up in Feniton and attended the beautiful church of St Andrew. It is remarkable to think of one young man from East Devon changed the course of history for the people of Melanesia, 9,500 miles away on the other side of the globe.
Church of St James and St Anne, Alfington
The community of Alfington is where Patteson came to help the then Curate in 1853, who was suffering with ill health, and from here he was ordained. Following his ordination having served here for two years, Patteson was called to go with Bishop Selwyn to New Zealand and so to Melanesia.
Ottery St Mary Parish Church
This magnificent church was a familiar and cherished place for Patteson, and here he preached from its high pulpit. His mother’s vast family home of Chanter’s House (then Heath’s Court), where she was brought up, stands in the lee of the church to the west.