Exeter, Devon Hotels, Resort Accommodations

go back to home page home page / Europe / United Kingdom / Devon, England

  

Country UNITED KINGDOM

EXETER
(regional info)

***Compare Hotels in Exeter, UK by comparative pricing
   

Exeter hotels, resorts & accommodations
Exeter City Council
University of Exeter
Exeter Regional Directory
Google Images: Exeter
Google Video: Exeter
Google Map: Exeter
Wikipedia: Exeter

EXETER 's sights are richer than those of any other town in Devon or Cornwall, the legacy of an eventful history since its Celtic foundation and the establishment here of the most westerly Roman outpost. After the Roman withdrawal, Exeter was refounded by Alfred the Great and by the time of the Norman Conquest had become one of the largest towns in England, profiting from its position on the banks of the River Exe. The expansion of the wool trade in the Tudor period sustained the city until the eighteenth century, and Exeter has maintained its status as commercial centre and county town, despite having much of its ancient centre gutted by World War II bombing.

You are likely to pass through this transport hub for Devon at least once on your West Country travels, and Exeter's sturdy cathedral and the remnants of its compact old quarter would repay an overnight stay .

The most distinctive feature of Exeter's skyline, St Peter's Cathedral (Mon-Sat 8am-6.30pm, Sun 8am-7.30pm), is a stately monument made conspicuous by the two great Norman towers flanking the nave. Close up, it is the facade's ornate Gothic screen that commands attention: its three tiers of sculpted (and very weathered) figures - including Alfred, Athelstan, Canute, William the Conqueror and Richard II - were begun around 1360, part of a rebuilding programme which left only the Norman towers from the original construction. The cathedral boasts the longest unbroken Gothic ceiling in the world, its bosses vividly painted - one, towards the west front, shows the murder of Thomas à Becket. The Lady Chapel and Chapter House - respectively at the far end of the building and off the right transept - are thirteenth-century, but the main part of the nave, including the lavish rib-vaulting, dates from the full flowering of the English Decorated style, a century later. There are many fine examples of sculpture from this period, including, in the minstrels' gallery high up on the left side, angels playing musical instruments, and, below them, figures of Edward III and Queen Philippa.

Dominating the cathedral's central space are the organ pipes installed in the seventeenth century and harmonizing perfectly with the linear patterns of the roof and arches. In the Choir don't miss the sixty-foot bishop's throne or the misericords - decorated with mythological figures around 1260, they are thought to be the oldest in the country.

Outside, a graceful statue of the theologian Richard Hooker surveys the Cathedral Close , a motley mixture of architectural styles from Tudor to Regency, though most display Exeter's trademark red-brick work. One of the finest buildings is the Elizabethan Mol's Coffee House , impressively timbered and gabled, now a map shop. Some older buildings can also be found amid the banal concrete of the modern town centre, including Exeter's finest civic building, the fourteenth-century Guildhall - claimed to be England's oldest municipal building in regular use. Standing not far from the cathedral on the pedestrianized High Street , it's fronted by an elegant Renaissance portico, and the main chamber merits a glance for its arched roof timbers, which rest on carved bears holding staves, symbols of the Yorkist cause during the Wars of the Roses. Just down from here, opposite St Petrock's - one of Exeter's six surviving medieval churches in the central area - you'll find the impossibly narrow Parliament Street, just 25 inches wide at this end.

On the west side of Fore Street, the continuation of the High Street, a turning leads to St Nicholas Priory (Easter-Oct Mon, Wed & Sat 3-4.30pm; free), part of a small Benedictine foundation that became a merchant's home after the Dissolution; the interior has been restored to what it might have looked like in the Tudor era. On the other side of Fore Street, trailing down towards the river, cobbled Stepcote Hill was once the main road into Exeter from the west, though it is difficult to imagine this steep and narrow lane as a main thoroughfare. Another of central Exeter's ancient churches, St Mary Steps , stands surrounded by mainly Tudor houses at the bottom, with a fine seventeenth-century clock on its tower and a late Gothic nave inside.

At the north end of the High Street, Romansgate Passage (next to Boots) holds the entrance to a network of underground passages first excavated in the thirteenth century to bring water to the cathedral precincts. The passages can be visited as part of a fascinating 35-minute guided tour (July-Sept & school holidays Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm; rest of year Tues-Fri noon-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm). Nearby, Castle Street leads to what remains of Rougemont Castle , now little more than a perimeter of red-stone walls that are best appreciated from the surrounding Rougemont and Northernhay Gardens. Following the path through this park, exit at Queen Street to drop in at the excellent Royal Albert Memorial Museum (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; free), the closest thing in Devon to a county museum. Exuding the Victorian spirit of wide-ranging curiosity, this motley assortment includes everything from a menagerie of stuffed animals to mock-ups of the various building styles used at different periods in the city. The collections of silverware, watches and clocks contrast nicely with the colourful ethnography section, and the picture gallery has some good specimens of West Country art.

Exeter's centre is bounded to the southwest by the River Exe, where the port area is now mostly devoted to leisure activities, particularly around the old Quayside . Pubs, shops and cafés share the space with handsomely restored nineteenth-century warehouses and the smart Custom House , built in 1681, its opulence reflecting the former importance of the cloth trade. Next door, the Quay House from the same period has an information desk and, upstairs, a video on Exeter's history (Easter-Oct). The area comes into its own at night, but is worth a wander at any time, and you can rent bikes and canoes at Saddles & Paddles on the quayside (tel 01392/424241, ) to explore the Exeter Canal , which runs five miles to Topsham and beyond.

copyright 2013 (c) 1t23.com Travel Information and Bookings Portal

commercial advertisement