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Exeter Tourist Information & Travel Guide

May 15, 2008
Exeter, England is the capital town of the county of Devon and is positioned upon the River Exe which has acted a valuable transport link and defensive position during its infancy.

The City of Exeter has managed to retain many of its historic period properties and buildings whilst also becoming a cosmopolitan modern city with modern architectural structures and offers today's tourist visitors a range of amenities and facilities.

Although being surrounded with some of the finest arable farming land that England has to offer, Exeter has become a jewel within the west country , It is a centre for modern commerce and the well regarded University is highly sought by potential students and offers excellent education.

The Exeter city Hospital has a solid record of innovative medicinal techniques and many tourists visit the city each year by using the City Airport located just outside of the main hub of the city, This along with the closeness to the main M5 motorway provide Exeter with excellent commuter links..

Exeter origins were formed due to its position upon the Exe , Its held great importance as it provided a safe crossing across the Exe at its lowest traversable point, this create a transport rout through this low lying funnel as it provided access to the south-west peninsula.

During 50 AD The Roman Army, or more precisely it 2nd Augustan Legion fortified this naturally defensible position to hold the ground and create a choke point upon the Exe. The Roman Army remained and in the latter part of the 2nd Century started Building and fortifying their position with the defensive walls which can still be viewed today. The Romans called the area that they had held for so long Isca Dumnoniorum due to the local native people called the Dumnonii.

During the 4th Century the Legion were recalled to defend Rome and its satellite states from attack, without the leadership and governing hand of the Romans. Exeter entered a period of minimal growth or expansion and remained static during the period of 400 - 700AD.

William the Conqueror with success at the Battle of Hasting in 1066 quickly took control of the City Of Exeter, where he started a program of systematic fortification and defensive building. Rougemont Castle was created stone by stone to sit upon the highest point of the previously created City walls, the remains of the castle moat can be found within Rougemont Gardens, now an attractive and frequently used park.

The law is still handed out to a degree from a relic of this age in the shape of Athelsstan's Tower which forms the gateway and Entrance to Exeter Crown Court. The tower is an impressive structure within its own right and is part of earlier Norman fortifications.

In the latter part of the 13th Century a weir was commissioned and built across the Exe by the Countess of Devon; this obstacle had restricted sea faring transport from reaching directly into the city heart and, for a period Exeter ceased as a direct trading port on the International map. The sea faring trade continued down the estuary in Topsham, now a vibrant and popular spot on the tourist trail.

In 1563 a ship canal was engineered which allowed travel back to the main trade routes and the regular trade routes re-opened with Exeter main export being wool.

Along side Exeter Canal is the Quayside, which today is a lovely place on a summers evening filled with antique shops and pubs and cafes. The main period building on the Quayside along with the warehouses is the Old Custom House built in 1681 and guarded by two large cannons which adorn the building and give it a colonial charm.

The single building or structure that truly defines Exeter would be The Cathedral of St Peters, a colossal structure with impressive and detailed stoneware adorning every facet; it sits imposingly within its own grounds surrounded by smaller period properties which have mostly become shops, pubs and restaurants now.

The Cathedral is of Norman Construction and was finished in 1375 (although it started to rise from the ground in the early 12th century) the defining points of the structure are two impressive powerfully built towers. Within the place of worship itself the vaulted ceiling which again is impressively adorned with individually sculptured bosses hold the record of being the longest unbroken vault ceiling in the world of Gothic architecture.

Within the cathedral green itself unexcavated, a Roman Bathhouse built and used by the garrison army of the Second Augustan Legion remains as part of the living history that is Exeter. Across the Green from The Bathhouse remains the Bishop of Crediton. Residential property can be found along with an establishment frequented By Sir Walter Raleigh and Our other Fine Explorer Sir Francis Drake, whom both were staunch patrons of Mol's Coffee House.

Exeter has other remaining subterranean secrets. This includes the 'Catacombs' built within the 14th Century and these passages are the only ones of their type within a British City. The passageways under the High Street of Exeter were never intended as catacombs but possessed the objective of providing the centre of Exeter with Clean Drinking water through a series of lead pipe from the various natural springs which were plentiful on the other side of the High defensive City walls.
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