Jane and Mary Parminter were non-conformists belonging to the Glenorchy Independent (Congregational) Church in Exmouth. However, they found that bad weather, especially in the wintertime, often prevented them from making the journey to church. One story says that they did not wish their coachman to work on the Sabbath and they therefore decided to build their own chapel in a field adjacent to their home. At the same time they decided to create a small resident community for needy women and the idea of the almshouses was born. The tiny chapel and its surrounding almshouses was built in 1811 and licensed for worship in 1812 by the Bishop of Exeter. At that time special dispensation had to be granted for public worship for “His Majesty’s Protestant subjects dissenting from the Church of England”.
The name ‘Point in View’ may possibly have originated from the splendid views from the site of this field over the Exe estuary down to what is known as the “Exmouth Point” jutting out into the mouth of the river. However, there is no doubt that the name was specifically adopted by the Parminters because of their enthusiasm for the ideals of the Mission to the Jews, with the aim of achieving the conversion of the Jewish people prior to their return to their ancient homeland in Palestine – this then was what they publicly declared as their “Point in View”. Inside the chapel were two small wooden collecting boxes, one for donations for the minister and one for the ‘London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews’. These were opened annually, with their contents recorded in the Trustees Minutes book and then distributed accordingly.
According to the original Trust Deed, the minister was required to be a ‘regularly ordained Protestant Dissenter of approved character’ holding to the doctrines of what is known as the “Westminster Confession” adopted by Reformed Dissenters (known as “Congregationalists”) in 1643. He should be married and would occupy what was known as the “entrance room” area leading from the front door into the chapel proper, called the ‘Point Room’. When the minister later moved into the Manse, the entrance room was opened up to enlarge the area of the chapel used for worship. The minister was to conduct public worship morning and afternoon of the Lord’s Day, daily morning and evening prayer and a weekly lecture on Wednesday morning, all of which the four women residents and the six schoolgirls were expected to attend. In addition he would preach an annual sermon to the children on 6th November (the anniversary of Jane’s death).
A manse was built in 1829 as a residence for the Chaplain and is still now occupied by the current Chaplain who also acts as Warden for the almshouses. Services are still held in the Chapel at 11.00am every Sunday, and the building is open every day for visitors. It has become “a place of peace and promise” – for pilgrimage and prayer. There is a regular worshipping congregation, including some of the residents, although the requirement to attend worship is no longer applied! Although the Chapel remains independent, with members from many different denominational backgrounds, there is a strong association with the United Reformed Church and especially with Glenorchy URC in Exmouth, where some of the Trustees are members.