In 1259 Walter Bronscombe (sometimes called Branscombe), Bishop of Exeter, set off on a trip round the churches under his care, dedicating them to their patron saints. On 6th November he dedicated Chudleigh Church to the Saints of St. Martin and St. Mary.
St. Martin is Martin of Tours, a 4th century soldier who famously gave half his cloak to a beggar and then dreamed that he saw Jesus wearing the half-cloak.
St. Mary is the Mother of Jesus.
There has been a place of Christian worship here since before the Norman Conquest. At this time the Bishops of Exeter were rich and powerful and in 1080 Bishop Osborne selected Chudleigh as the site for a rural palace, the fragmentary remains of which may be seen in an orchard adjacent to Rock Road. In 1225 Bishop Brewer granted the church and advowson to the Precentor of Exeter, who, in 1282 was provided with a house at Ugbrooke.
Under the influence of the Precentors, the original church, which consisted of a nave and chancel, was replaced by a more impressive cruciform building. It was probably this church that was dedicated by Bishop Bronscombe.
Both the original and the second church were dressed with red sandstone. Between 1300 and 1350 a further rebuilding in the Perpendicular Style took place and this time dressings of Beer stone were used. The sturdy tower is thought to date from this period. The shape of the church was further changed in about 1560 when the south transept was replaced by a south aisle with mullions and dressings of granite. In 1574 a south door and porch chamber were added at the west end of the south aisle and it was from this chamber in 1608 that “Beaton Bucketmaker and her companie were to be removed before the next visitation of my Lord Bishop …” In order to facilitate the “more convenient meeting of the parishioners” a vestry was built alongside the south porch in 1754.
An extensive restoration was carried out in the 1840s. The south porch and vestry were demolished and a new vestry was built at the east end of the south aisle. By 1870, due to wood rot and to the fact that the arcades were ten inches out of perpendicular, the roof was on the point of collapse. Another major restoration followed, putting the church into essentially good order right to the present day.