Devon

Exeter Cathedral

Situated in the centre of Exeter, the most south-westerly fortified Roman settlement in Britain, Exeter Cathedral was founded in 1050. One of the most popular attractions in the South West with a history spanning nearly 1,000 years, it encapsulates an incredible feat of engineering and houses some of the country’s greatest treasures.

With a hardy bunch of builders and craftsmen setting to work on the current site in 1114, additions and adaptions were constantly affected throughout the centuries, melding the cathedral into what it is today. Most significantly, a major reconstruction of Exeter Cathedral took place between 1270 and 1350 under six consecutive Bishops (starting with Walter Bronescombe), this time following the lead of Salisbury and adopting a Decorated Gothic style. 

Popping out from Exeter’s network of Medieval streets and arriving at Exeter Cathedral, it will be hard not to be impressed by its design. Even today, the cathedral represents one of the most striking examples of Gothic architecture in the world, both intricate and dramatic, and is quite the sight to behold. Offering one of the best views, the cathedral’s west front is covered in detailed carvings and dominated by three rows of imposing statues.

Stepping inside, the rare beauty of the cathedral continues. Showcasing ingenious artistry and craftsmanship, it boasts a wealth of extraordinary features, including the longest stretch of unbroken Gothic vaulting in the world, stunning stained-glass windows and the Exeter Rondels, a series of embroidered cushions over 70 meters long. Longer than the Bayeaux Tapestry, the Rondels line the sides of the nave and show a chronological depiction of the cathedral’s history.

If you would like to find out more about Exeter Cathedral, you can simply take your time wandering below its cavernous roof or enjoy guided and audio tours. Unveiling some of the cathedral’s many secrets, the tours will reveal some of the amazing treasures guarded within, including the Exon Domesday book, Shakespeare’s Second Folio and the Exeter Book, a 10th century anthology of poetry in Old English. 

To make your visit to Exeter Cathedral even more enchanting, you can time your trip to coincide with one of its famous choir rehearsals. Priding itself on its choral traditions which date back to the very beginning of the cathedral’s history, there is singing held most weekdays at 5.30pm. Free to attend and open to everyone, the service lasts around 45 minutes. During the day, you can also benefit from the cathedral’s gift shop and café, where snacks, cream teas and lunches are served.

The Cathedral receives no funding from the government or the Diocese of Exeter. There is a small admission fee, which contributes to the £1.3million annual operating costs.

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Exeter Cathedral, the Cloisters, Exeter EX1 1HS | 01392 285 983 

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