Visit the city of Exeter – the county town of Devonshire; a cathedral and university city.
The city is steeped in history with the original settlement having been made by the Romans in about AD 50, when the Second Augustan Legion built a fortress on a spur overlooking the River Exe.
The fortress remained occupied until the legion was transferred to South Wales in AD 75, following which work started to transform the military establishment into a town known as Isca Dumnonorium. The town had public buildings which included a forum, basilica, market place and baths. The city walls, of which approximately two thirds still exist, was built in about AD200.
Despite many repairs carried out over the centuries, original sections of Roman masonry can still be seen and there are many Roman artifacts on display in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum on Queen Street.
In common with most Roman cities in Britain, Isca Dumnonorium fell into decline following the withdrawal of the Romans from the country in AD 410 and by the middle of the fifth century was almost deserted. The town started to be occupied by the Saxons from the middle of the seventh century and by the late ninth century was thriving.
It was at this time that the medieval street plan was laid out, with High Street and Fore Street as the main thoroughfares and a maze of small narrow streets in between. Of these only Gandy Street and St. Martins Lane remain.
The Saxon defences withstood three sieges in 1001, 1003 and 1068 when William the Conquerer was kept at bay for 18 days before the city surrendered. By 1086 there were no less than 29 churches in the city, of which St. Olaves, St. Martins and St. Stephens still exist, albeit in modified form.
A monastery existed in the Close by AD 680, with a monastic church founded by King Athelstan serving as a cathedral from 1050 to 1133.
The appointment of William Warelwant, a nephew of William the Conquerer, as Bishop in 1107 was the catalyst that inspired the building of the cathedral. The foundation was laid in 1133 and the building took many years to complete, only to be rebuilt from 1258 in the decorated gothic style, following the example of Salisbury.
Much of the original building was retained including the two massive stone towers and most of the original walls. Construction was completed in 1400.
Despite a number of additions, the Reformation, the English Civil War and severe damage sustained during an air raid in 1942, Exeter Cathedral remains to this day a masterpiece of ecclesiastical building.
Whilst the information above deals with the origins of Exeter and it’s cathedral, there remains a veritable treasure trove of historical buildings and points of interest in the city, including Rougemont Castle, the original medieval bridge over the River Exe, fine Georgian and Victorian buildings and the Exeter Canal.
We thoroughly recommend a visit.
Explore Devon on holiday, staying at Dartfordleigh Bed and Breakfast, situated in the heart of Dartmoor National Park in Postbridge. Book your accommodation and explore this fantastic part of the UK.