The roof bosses (the bits which 'fix' the roof arches together) are beautiful, but (as with most cathedrals) too far up to see properly or to fully gauge their size. Exeter has a replica boss on show to help; I was amazed at how huge it was.
Oh....and the real ones weigh as much as a small car, so we were told. Lifting them into place was an amazing achievement.
The House that moved!
Merchant House, 16 Edmund St, one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city, was in the way of the new bypass and had been scheduled for demolition. It dated from approx 1500 but was in poor repair and not considered much of a loss. However, with pressure from archeologists, it was listed just in time, and the demolition stopped. Exeter City Council, with help from the government decided to spend £10,000 to have the house moved out of the way of the new road.
A London company was contracted to move the house about 70m up from its site on the corner of Edmund Street and Frog Street to a new position by the old West Gate, at the bottom of West Street. It took several weeks to prepare the house for the move - the timber framework of the house was criss-crossed with strengthening timbers and iron wheels placed at each corner attached to hydraulic jacks.
On Saturday 9th December, 1961, the move started - the house was raised a few centimetres and on the Sunday and Monday, it was moved to the edge of Edmund Street, prior to its journey up the hill. On Tuesday the 13th, the police closed Edmund Street to traffic and the house was gingerly moved to the centre of the street on iron rails. The rails and wheels were turned through 90 degrees, to face up Edmund Street and the long haul began.
The move up West Street was completed by Wednesday and Merchant House was placed in its new position. Allowing for corners, the house was actually moved 90 metres!
The Clock in the Cathedral
The clock, in the north wall of the north tower was the gift of Bishop Peter Courtenay, (1478-87)
A minutes dial was added in 1759. The fleur-de-lys represents the sun and goes round a 24 hour dial, with mid-day at the top and mid-night at the bottom. The moon's phases are shown and the day of the lunar month can be read from the inner ring. The gold ball in the centre represents the earth.The tracery in the bottom right belongs to the top of the Sylke Chantry (Chapel of the Holy Cross).
EXITER - full of historical exitement
"The SPCK Bookshop"
The SPCK Bookshop is located on the corner of St Martins and Catherine Street (previously known as Fyssh Street and Little Kalendarhay respectively) overlooking the famous Exeter Cathedral. The bookshop consists of a pair of three-storeyed houses made into one by the removal of the oak screen that originally seperated them. They were constructed in timber framing supported by a red sandstone rear wall. Originally there were four houses in a row but numbers 3 and 4 Catherine Street were demolished, not due to German bombing as is sometimes reported, but to make way for extensions to the Clothing Store that is now adjacent to the bookshop.
The oldest records referring to these buildings date to 1450. These records are bills for tiling work done in Little Kalendarhay and almost certainly refer to the present SPCK building.
The Vicars Choral
The Vicars Choral was a group of priests of between sixteen and twenty in number whose principal role was to provide singing in the Cathedral. They obtained the property on which they built the houses sometime in the 13th Century. When the houses were built the entrances for both were in Catherine Street, as St Martins Gate abutted the building on the Martins Lane side. The gate was demolished in 1819 but the place where it abutted on the house can still be seen.
What can still be seen.
The upper room of the first house is remarkable for its decorated spinebeam and joists. There are chevron designs painted on the joists and a vine tendril pattern on the beam, both in black on a backround of yellow ochre. This painting seems to be of sixteenth century date, but the evidence of the Vicars Choral records would seem to suggest that it may have been done about 1630 when the upper room was ceiled over in order to produce another room above it." - W G Hoskins
"Mol's Coffee House"
This photogenic building now occupied by Elands (known for maps and stationery) is a favourite subject for postcards and tourist cameras.
Chips Barber describes it well: "Mol's Coffee House is not a coffee house in the true sense. However, it is believed that it was a subscription coffee house from about 1700 to 1824. Mol was not a gangsters girlfriend - he was Thomas Mol, an Italian, who was at these premises in 1596, many decades before coffee was even introduced into England. It has also been suggested that this was a favourite rendezvous for Devon's famous sea dogs when plotting to thwart the Spanish Armada. It is believed that the famous seamen to meet there included Hawkins, Grenville, Frobisher and Drake.
The building contains one of the finest oak panelled rooms in the country; it has a star shaped ceiling, believed to be the only one of its kind in Europe. There are 230 panes of glass and not one of them is a perfect square."
"The Ship Inn"
"Next to mine own ship I do most love that old "Shippe" in Exon, a tavern in Fyssh Street, as the people do call it, or as the Clergy will have it, St Martin's Lane." Sir Francis Drake 1857.
The Ship Inn shares a wall with the present SPCK bookshop, and the entrances to the two buildings are now very close to one another. Before St Martin's gate was demolished, however, the SPCK buildings had entrances into Catherine Street(formerly Little Kalendarhay), and so The Ship was outside the Cathedral Close.
This old Inn has seen much history. Drake frequented it, it was occupied by Royalist troops under Cavalier Captain Bennet during the siege of Exeter by Roundhead (Parliament) troops under Fairfax in the Civil War, and it was nearly destroyed in 1710 when a mob tried to burn it down.