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Exeter Cathedral (Exeter)

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The founding of the cathedral at Exeter, dedicated to Saint Peter, dates from 1050, when the seat of the bishop of Devon and Cornwall was transferred from Crediton because of a fear of sea-raids. A Saxon minster already existing within the town (and dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Peter) was used by Bishop Leofric as his seat, but services were often held out of doors, close to the site of the present cathedral building. In 1107, William Warelwast, a nephew of William the Conqueror, was appointed to the see, and this was the catalyst for the building of a new cathedral in the Norman style. Its official foundation was in 1133, after Warelwast's time, but it took many more years to complete. Following the appointment of Walter Bronescombe as bishop in 1258, the building was already recognized as outmoded, and it was rebuilt in the Decorated Gothic style, following the example of nearby Salisbury. However, much of the Norman building was kept, including the two massive square towers and part of the walls. It was constructed entirely of local stone, including Purbeck marble. The new cathedral was complete by about 1400, apart from the addition of the chapter house and chantry chapels.

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      14.12.2008 19:29
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      Should go once.

      I have visited Exeter a few times as I have friends that live in the town.
      There are a few shops but the town itself is quite small and there isnnt really a lot to do shopping wise. There are some small independently owned shops (butchers etc) which I think it is always nice to see as opposed to just large chain shops.

      There are a few nice pubs and a couple of nice places to eat and there is also a train station on the outskirts of the town.
      There is also a bus service running from Crediton to nearby villages and also to Exeter City centre however the buses can be quite irregular and unreliable in my experience.
      There is a beautiful church, which is worth looking at, and there is also a Farmers Market held on the first Saturday of the month which I enjoyed looking around.

      There is a leisure centre but the majority of Exeter Cathedral is housing estates.
      The people in Crediton always seem friendly and there is a good sense of community spirit.

      I wouldnnt say this was somewhere you could come for a day out but it is fine if you just wanted to pass in and have a look around. I write this on helphound aswell.

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        07.08.2008 19:45
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        Really beautiful building with lovely green outside

        Exeter Cathedral is a truly magnificent building in right in the heart of the city centre. It is surrounded by big green spaces where you will find children playing and couples enjoying picnics in the summer months. By night you are more likely to find a group of homeless drunks.

        The building is colossal. The main entrance way is surrounded by statues of saints. You;ll find one with it's head missing - this is Mary and it was considered by the church to be unseemly to have a female amongst the male the saints so they decapitated her. This was some time ago... at least 5 years! ;o)

        There are strong powerful buttresses all along each side. Inside it is not as beautiful but has amazing ceilings and several lady chapels that are quiet and calming.

        The cathedral charges to get in, which I think is disgusting. It never used to be compulsory but they have recently changed the sign outside which suggests that it is. If anyone ever says anything I say I want to pray and just walk past them. Of course, if you do just want a nose around, the money goes to the upkeep and so it is a good cause.

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          16.03.2005 10:32
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          St. Peters Cathedral, standing for almost 900 years can be seen clearly from most approaches to the City of Exeter. The North Tower of St. Paul and the South Tower of St. John, being most visable. Exeter Cathedral started to be built in the year 1110, by a nephew of William the Conquerer, named William Warelwast, who was Bishop of Exeter from 1107 to 1137. The building was greatly hindered by a fire caused by King Stephen's Siege of the City in 1136 . The site had previously be occupied by a Monastery Church. At around this time, Exeter was the tenth biggest town in England. It had a population of about 2,500 people, living in 460 houses and and around 30 different churches, all but 4 of these churches were inside the walled area.

          The only truly original parts of the Cathedral are the two Norman Towers, which rise to around 40metres. Instead of a central or western tower, there are twin towers north and south of the east end of the nave. No other church has Norman towers in this position. The remainder of the Cathedral was demolished in 1260, rebuilding started by Bishop Walter Bronescombe in the 1270's and continued to be rebuilt during the next 100 years or so, the new design being much extended. The wealthy, Bishop Walter Stapledon was able to provide the Cathedral with many endowments for extensions of the work. The nave was begun around 1310 and the huge pulpitum dates from the same time. These constructions were completed by Bishop John Grandisson in the late 1330s and the stonework of his windows is considered to be the best example of the period. Only five years later, the Black Death deprived the city of the many laymen who had been its builders and the clergy were permanently reduced in numbers.

          The wonderfully ornate West Front , also by Grandisson dates from 1329, and is perhaps the most photographed part of the Cathedral nowadays, but it worth getting closer to examine the fine detailed carvings. At the time, this frontage would have been highly painted, and must have looked even more impressive than it does today. Among the images depected on the three rows of figures on the West Front are Jesus Christ (top row, 15th from the left), King Athelstan, Edward The Confessor, Richard II and William The Conquerer (all seated on the middle row). The bottom row is occupied by Angels, some playing instruments. Although many of the carvings can be identified, there is no complete key available. Some figures have actually been replaced, and the whole west front has had recent renovation work due to pollution and weather damage.

          The Cathedral houses a a bullet-proof glass case, strongly secured within it's walls, in it is the home to a book that is more than 1,000 years old. The Exeter Book, was once used as a cheese board by workmen until, in the late 18th Century, historians realised how important it was. It is one of the most important pieces of literature in the English language, although so old most people would need a translator to understand it. The book is a collection of poems and stories from Anglo-Saxons and is believed to date from the 8th Century. Another ancient artefact inside the Cathedral is the 15th Century astrological clock, located in the North transept, as well as the time, the clock shows the passage of the moon and sun around the earth. The clock was made by Peter Lightfoot, the monk of Glastonbury responsible for the fine specimen of clock-making at Wimborne Minster in Dorset. Beneath the clock is the inscription Pereunt et imputantur, translated means "They [the hours] pass and are placed to our account."

          The 350 ft long nave vault extends, through the presbytery, to the far eastern end and is the longest stone vault in the World! It is tierceron in style, with eleven strong ribs springing between each of the eight bays, to a central one running the length of the Cathedral. Carved bosses mark the intersections. The walls are supported below by distinctive 'Exeter pillars,' each consisting of sixteen shafts of Purbeck marble.

          The Bishops Throne was the gift of Bishop Walter Stapledon, who was also founder of Exeter College in Oxford. is intricately carved from local Devon Oak wood, using no nails and completed in the year 1312.The throne measures 18metres in height, and is considered to be the finsest in the whole of England.

          The 49 'misericords' (also know as mercy seats) are believed to date from the mid 13th Century. These are lcoated under each of the 49 choir stalls on which the medieval carvers executed their most imaginative designs. The most famous of these designs is the Exeter Elephant, now displayed in the southern quire aisle, was apparently carved by someone who had never himself seen an elephant.

          The 20th Century.... On 3rd May 1942, German bomber planes descended on Exeter and pretty much destroyed this ancient City. The cathedral did suffer a direct hit and the double chapel of St. James and St. Thomas A'Becket was completely destroyed, along with two bays of the south quire. All the Cathedral glass which was still in place was destroyed except the great east window of 1304 which had been removed to a place of safety in 1939. Fears of major structural damage were soon discovered to be unfounded and repair work began as soon as conditions allowed. From those days right up until the present times, the Cathedral is being conserved and restored for the benefits of local people and those who come to marvel at it's beauty.

          Entry used to be free, but now a donation is expected. A camera permit is also required if you wish to photograph the interior. A gift shop inside the cathedral sells a wide range of related good quality items, some not available elshewhere. Any visitor to Exeter whatever age, shouldn't miss the opportunity to see this great building.

          The majority of this text is taken from the Souvenir from Exeter website, of which I am the author.

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            23.08.2001 01:04
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            Hi, welcome to my hometown of Exeter, in deepest Devon. This is my review of what is going on, from a locals point of view, so come join me, what are you waiting for? First up a bit of history and Geography lesson. Exeter is located in Devon, and is regarded as the capital of the county. Plymouth is larger in size, but Exeter has all the county hall and administrative buildings, while Plymouth is more working class and a large navy background. Exeter is built on the river Exe, which starts on Exmoor, and meets the English Channel/Atlantic Ocean to the south at Exmouth. Exeter used to be badly flooded as the Exe expanded in winter, but a new flood defence and barrier system is in place, and I cannot remember a serious flood in my life, although the last few years have seen some damager, likewise across the country. Exeter started life as a major crossing point for the river, before later becoming an important dock Now it is more businesses based, and provides the local farming community. Exeter had a settlement on Roman time, and some of the old walls are still standing today. Obviously the place has expended somewhat, the walls are nowhere near the modern boundaries, and there are several archaeological finds, especially in the Albert museum, more on that later. Exeter was bombed very heavily in the second world war, so there is a curious mixture of 50s/60s modern buildings amongst Victorian terraces, Tudor wood houses and elegant Georgian buildings in the place. Exeter had no strategically importance, it was bombed purely as it is a beautiful place, and in revenge the RAF and American started the Dresden bombings. A very tragic part of the city’s history, many civilians lost their lives, and there were no army, navy or factory installations anywhere near Exeter. Plymouth was also bombed, although it was a major navy port, all were tragic. What to see in Exeter? Well what can I say? It all depends on your preferences. There ar
            e plenty of stunning buildings, and beautiful architecture, if sightseeing is your thing, there is the cathedral, underground passages, and several museums, and churches to see, plenty of sports to watch and play, if shopping is your thing, there is plenty of selection in the High Street and two shopping centres, nightlife, food and drink is a plenty in several great pubs, clubs and restaurants and if it is just an overnight stay, there are plenty of great hotels. All if all Exeter has something to offer whatever you want, now a little more detail. Culture. There is plenty to see and do in Exeter and you certainly will not get board, Exeter has a rich history, better than many other cities. I never think of Exeter as a tourist city, it is the place where I live, work and shop, but there is plenty to see. The cathedral is beautiful, but as I walk past it is just there all the time, so I never appreciate is as much as other, new visitors. To start with there is the cathedral, located in the centre of town, and there is a nice green spot to relax in. The cathedral is majestic, rising from all the modern shops. It was damaged in the war, and is constantly needing restoration work done, but still is a big feature and well worth a visit. I don’t know how old it is exactly, that is not how I see it, take it from me it is a marvellous design and engineering feat, and very impressive. The area around is nice, there are plenty of Tudor and Georgian houses that were untouched, and look nice in classic black and white wood. Some of the High Street shops are done in either mock style or are originals, for example Marks and Spenser’s, but larger parts were destroyed in the bombing, so two Tudor houses may be in between a 1970s brick building. There is also a nice Tudor house, just off the main town, named the house that moved. It was literally put on wheels and moved 100 meters down the road to help re-development and protect it. All the classic houses
            are either lived in now, or are shops, so are not open to the public, but are worth a look from the outside. The biggest museum in Exeter is the Royal Albert Museum, which is a general museum, good exhibits on nature and local history, but often change. It is just off from the main High Street again Also in Exeter there are a good selection of churches, Roman ruins and other buildings in general, and some great architecture, and Exeter in general is a city with a rich history, and very interesting if you look in. Getting to Exeter could not be simpler, wherever you come from you should just get onto the M5 and head for the South West. Junction 28 is Cullompton, then get on the B3181 through Broadclyst and Pinhoe to Exeter, or Junction 29 at moto services and then follow signs for city. From the south the A303, then A30 near Honiton is better. Exeter also has an airport that fly’s to many internal destinations, and two railway stations with regular links to the rest of the county. For Exeter it is a good stepping stone to the rest of rural Devon, the North coast has great beaches, and the East and West are good tastes of local hospitality and rural culture, with some great walks on the two moors, Exmoor and Dartmoor. In the south there is more seaside villages, with good beaches, and finishing trips. Cornwall is great, with more beaches, surf and good accommodation. Most of Exeter’s city centre is either in walking distance or a bus ride. Buses are frequent and cheep and are letter coded to where they are going, see a timetable on any bus stop for details. Exeter has two stations, Central is just a short distance from the city centre, and Exeter St. David’s is the larger, going to most parts of the country, while central station is local, from there you can go to North and South Devon and Cornwall, again they are frequent and relatively cheep. Exeter has a good university, the main campus is slightly off from the main town, but there are lo
            ts of students around, so watch out, especially at night time and bars can get busy. Eating out in Exeter can be a little hard; you have to know where to look if you want a good meal. There are fast food outlets of McDonalds and Burger King, but if junk food is not your thing, there are plenty of nice snack bars for eating, mostly in or just off the high street so look around. My tips would be Oggy’s Pasties, the Coffee Pot, American Doughnuts, Coffee Place, and this shop next to MVC that sell the best pasties, but I cant think of their name. Sorry, but it is the best pasties in Exeter, so check it out. If you want a swift pint, the best watering holes are the Duke of York on the high street and the Ship Inn near the cathedral, but look around, most are friendly with good food and drink. If you want a larger evening meal, the hotels do a good deal (more on them later), but on the Quayside are my pick of the restaurants. On the Waterfront is a good pizza place, with 18 inch pizzas with a hall of fame if you eat your way through one. They do a happy hour, where you get 2 for the price of 1, I think it is 5 o’clock to 6 o’clock, but is a good deal. Mud Dock is a good restaurant, and there are several other nice bars and restaurants around the Quay, so take your pick, they are all good, even though they can get a bit pricey at time. For accommodation, there is a big list, but depends on how much you are going to spent. Up Market is the Royal Clarence Hotel, near the cathedral, good food, done by, Michael Caines, a local boy who lost his right arm in a car accident, but is one of the top gourmet chefs outside London. That is very expensive, in the middle cost bracket; there is the Southgate Hotel, a trust house forte and the newly opened Barcelona, which used to be the old eye hospital, but has been redeveloped. Slightly out of town there are numerous B+B places, look around, a lot are near Marsh Barton. Around Exeter there are lots of
            local villages like Pinhoe, Broadclyst (where I live), Stoke Cannon, Clyst St Mary and Silverton, all a few miles out of the city and many have local pubs and traditional Devon cottages, and worth a visit if you are down, and can often provide local accommodation. Shopping, well Exeter is no Paris, London or New York, but t does have all the general high street brands, and a few local specialist shops. The two main shopping streets are the High Street, Princesshay and Fore Street. There are two big shopping centres, the Guildhall is just off the High Street, and basically contains all the stores such as Woolworth’s, Argos, WHSmiths and so on around a pattern of undercover walkways. Harlequins is just a little way off, and is one big complex, with a few smaller stores, and local produce, but is a bit off the track and I never have any need to go there. There is a good selector, try; Virgin Megastore, HMV, MVC, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer’s, Dingles, WHSmith’s, Waterstones, Next, Gap, Topshop and JJB Sports, so all you really need is in Exeter and just a flip away. Unfortunatly many small businesses and restaurants have now close, my favourite memories as a kid was going into the Pram and Toy shop with my pocket money, but sadly all the big high street brands have taken over, there was even Dillons was taken over by Waterstones a few years ago, so now Exeter has two Waterstones book shops. There are two large multi-story car parks, one in the Guildhall shopping centre, and another, King Willaim Street, which is just off the top of the High Street. Both fill up fast on weekends, and there is no parking in the city centre. Large parts of the city centre are completely car-free, others are public transport and taxies only, so in general are very safe. If you come here for shopping spree, Exeter is not the best place, but it is among the best in the region and certainly provides all I need. Nightlife is not a big specia
            lity in Exeter, despite being a university city. There are a few decent clubs; my favourites are Hot House and Volts, both down on the quay. One nice quirk about Exeter’s clubs is age concerned for Devon head office is next to Volts nightclub, so they obviously cant take it too seriously. There are plenty of young people around in the evenings; a lot of students, and some older visitors may be put off by it. Exeter has a few problems with crime, and one murder a few weeks ago, but as places go it is very safe, much better than London and other large cities. You can walk down the streets at night safely, and Middlemoor police station, the head of Devon and Cornwall constabulary is in Exeter, and the area is well policed. There are street beggars, selling the ‘Big Issue’, but generally Exeter is much better than other cities, and towns. The Quay is the best place to find a bit of nightlife, with plenty of bars, restaurants and pubs. Can get a bit pricey at times, but is a nice area. For music Westpoint is out of town, but has hosted big names; the Manic Street Preachers, Robbie Williams and the Corrs have all played there recently. In the city The Cavern is a good bet, local music of good quality, but look and see what’s on when you are there in the local press. Sports wise Exeter can offer a lot, even though it is comparatively small in size. Exeter City are (still) in the third division, and have just started there season (see my opinion on them for more details), Exeter Chiefs rugby club is in Premiership two, and going strong, and Exeter Arena is an athletics track and has hosted some major youth and national events, as well. Pyramids is the best swimming pool in the city, and there are several gyms, the best being Clifton hill and at Pyramids again. Exeter is a beautiful city, and it combines everything you could want in a compact, clean and friendly environment. If you want to use Exeter as a base there is great ac
            cess to the rest of Devon and Cornwall, and good food and accommodation to match. If you visit the city there is plenty for you, whatever your tastes and well worth a visit. You may find this opinion a bit biased, because after all it is where I live, but I honestly believe Exeter is a great place to visit, and well worth it. Thanks for reading, and please support an area devastated by the recent foot and mouth, and it needs all the support it can get, not just the cities, please go out into the country, it is safe and needs your business.

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              18.02.2001 05:32
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              I was born In Exeter, although I havent always lived there, and infact now live down the road in Plymouth. Exeter always has and always will hold a special place in my heart, in particular Exeter Cathedral. Located in the Centre of Exeter town centre in the middle of Cathedral green, it is an awe inspiring sight. I could and should be able to babble on about is illustrious history, but alas my school history lessons fail me, I cannot remember specifics so this is not going to be one of theose opinions. I merely wanted to share with you all a beautiful building well worth a visit if ever you are in Devon. As a teenager I used to sit in the Cathedral a lot to study. I also liked to sit and sketch and write poems. It is a lovely tranquill place. Absolute heaven for artists! There is so much to see, it is actually possible to spend hours in there. Guided tours are given explaining the history of the Cathedral. You can also attend services there, I particularly like the evening song service. The grounds are beautiful as well, and on a warm summers day it is lovely to sit out on the green with a picnic. The Cathedral is surrounded on all sides by shops and the like, but all in fairly old buildings so retains a olde world charm. Something found to be popular with bus loads of tourists!! In a nutshell I love this place, It feels like part of my child hood. A magnificient piece of history worth visitng.

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