Touring Exeter Cathedral

In 1050 the seat of the bishop of Devon and Cornwall was transferred from the small town of Crediton to the city of Exeter due to the fear of sea raids.  This is how our tour guide begins telling us the history of the Exeter Cathedral. 

The original Cathedral was built in the Norman style by the nephew of William the Conqueror.  By 1258 the Norman style was considered old fashioned and the Cathedral at Salisbury inspired a 'remodeling' project to add Decorated Gothic features to Exeter's Cathedral.  Fortunately, not all of the Norman features were lost in the remodelling project.  

Our tour today featured the sturdy Norman towers.  Climbing stair after stair of narrow, spiral staircases, we finally reached the roof space to see the original 14th century beams.  Squeezing under low beams and out tiny Normal windows we finally arrive at the apex and on to the roof.

The sunshine was dazzling as we looked down onto the ancient lead roof.

The view over the city was beautiful.  We could see for miles.  Lovely as the view was, the wind was cold and blustery so we were happy to scramble back down the narrow stone stairs and into the warmth of the Cathedral. 

Our tour guide explained the architectural features like the ceiling vaulting and bosses.

We examined the tombs and effigies of the great and good.  I was particularly interested in the gown of this Elizabethan lady.

But to be honest, it is the simplest things that are the most endearing, like this ancient cat flap cut into the door for the first Cathedral cat.  (see the circular hole at the bottom of the door)

Most cathedrals have at least one cat. Historically they were kept to control the rat and mouse population but the cats have always been more than just 'mousers'.   

This carving is in memory of One Eyed Tom, the Cathedral cat. Tom lost his eye in an unfortunate encounter with an owl.  They were both in pursuit of the same rat.  It seems being partially sighted didn't keep Tom from performing his duties earning the affection and gratitude of clergy and parishioners alike. 

The Cathedral is filled with fascinating stories and sculptures all too numerous to mention here.   CLICK HERE to learn more about how you can take a tour of Exeter Cathedral and experience this magnificent medieval masterpiece.  


  1. I have very happy memories of wandering around Exeter Cathedral and its precincts. I haven't been back for years, so thank you for my virtual tour!

    1. The city has changed but the Cathedral is timeless.

  2. Beautiful cathedral. Actually we visited Exeter cathedral too but I almost have forgotten how it was, it is about 40 years ago......

    1. Lots of the city has been rebuilt but the ancient Cathedral is just the same.

  3. We used to live between Crediton and Tiverton a short drive from Exeter and often enjoyed visiting the cathedral and the square. This is a lovely post! The cat door remains one of my favourite things too.


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