Historical evidence suggests that during Exeter's Saxon and Roman periods the river was much more tidal than it is now and was easily fordable at low tides. The first known bridge was completed around 1238 with the monies for its construction raised from public subscription by the then mayor, Walter Gervaise (with support from his wealthy father Nicholas). The eighteen-arch bridge was built from locally-quarried stone with a chapel at each end. On the bridge itself, as was the custom in those days, houses and commercial buildings were constructed, the income from which contributed towards the structure's maintenance.
By the middle of the 18th century the bridge was proving too narrow for the volume of traffic and so was replaced by another stone bridge, shorter and wider, during the building of which the river was narrowed and New Bridge Street added to connect to Fore Street.
The Medieval Bridge and the immediate area was built over to become part of the West Quarter.
During the post-WWII redevelopment of the city the bridge was uncovered during the building of the inner ring road and archaelogists managed to have the remaining eight-arch section, along with St Edmund's tower, saved from demolition and the structure incorporated as a traffic island in the middle of the new bridge system. This is now the oldest large stone bridge in the UK.
One of Exeter's oldest, and most interesting, buildings now sits rather incongruously on the corner of West Street and Edmund Street looking out onto the inner-city ring road.
The actual date of its original construction isn't known precisely but estimates put it as around 1450 when it was probably a merchant's home. It's original location was on the corner of Frog and Edmund in what was then known as the West Quarter. There had been a certain amount of slum clearance in the area during the early 1900's but the real impetus for redevelopment followed the damage done during the May 1942 blitz when the German Luftwaffe dropped 10,000 incendiaries and 75 tons of high-explosive bombs on the city in a raid lasting 1 hour 20 minutes.
Thomas Sharp, the post-war town planner, seemed hell bent on finishing off what the Germans had started and much of his 1950's designs for the new-look city paid scant regard for its history. His four-lane inner bypass road required the demolition of a swathe of the historic West Quarter which included what had become known as the Merchant's House.
By all accounts the building was in a quite poor state of repair at the time but it was considered to be the only surviving example of its type in the whole of Devon. This led to a group of local archaeologists and other interested parties campaigning to have it listed. The listed status was granted in time to save it from demolition but the road works were continuing and so the only solution was to physically move the whole structure.
It so happened that there was a vacant lot about 200 feet up the road, which ironically had been the site of a similar house until about 20 years previously when that had been knocked down due to its unsafe condition. In 1961 a specialist company, the London-based Pynford Ltd, was contracted to make the move. After months of planning the physical work began in November that year with the house being attached to a wheeled cradle and supporting timbers being strapped to its frame. In order to keep the integrity of the original building nothing was bolted or screwed into it and this stage took about two weeks to complete.
Once the preparation work was done the actual relocation began on Saturday 9th December. The house was first jacked-up a couple of inches and then it took another two days of careful manoeuvring to get it pointed in the right direction facing up Edmund Street. On Tuesday the 12th the street was closed off and a set of rails laid up the, at times, one-in-ten gradient to the house's eventual resting place.
A winch had been set-up at the top of the hill and the house was hauled inch by inch along the rails with a guy following behind it with a pair of chocks just in case it slid back. A friend of mine was actually there at the time and she commented, "It was so slow..." Every couple of inches the winch would be stopped and the supporting timbers checked and the jacks adjusted when required then the process continued.
It took all day to get it up the hill and then another two days to get it into its new position opposite the Medieval church of St Mary Steps and across from a pair of similar houses at no's 10 and 11 West Street.
Along with the much-photographed Stepcote Hill this corner makes for a glimpse of Exeter's bygone days when the city was regarded as "The Jewel Of The West" - just a shame about the four-lane road it looks out onto.
In the UK you can buy postage stamps from all sorts of outlets including newsagents, supermarkets, gift shops and many other places. However these stamps are only for internal UK mail and so if you need stamps for international destinations you'll need to visit a Post Office.
There are several Post Offices dotted around the city (simply Google "exeter post offices" to find the nearest) and the main city centre branch is in the new Princesshay shopping centre, on Bedford Street just down from the square where many of the restaurants are.
Note though that because this is the city's main Post Office it can be very busy at times and there's a "ticket queueing system" - you take a ticket from the machine and watch the screens for your number to come up.
To give it it's full title, the Exeter Visitor Information and Tickets office (EVIT) is located at the back of Paris Street Civic Centre, which is opposite the bus station.
Here you can get all the advice you need regarding public transport, things to do, local events, assistance with accommodation and, as the name might suggest, tickets to various attractions and local theatre performances.
As well as the usual freebie leaflets it also stocks a range of maps and guidebooks for sale.
The phone number is 01392 665700 and the website, which has loads of useful info and a couple of helpful downloads, is HERE
Favorite thing: Because of the spate of terrorist bombings around the UK over the last few decades most of the railway stations no longer offer left-luggage facilities and the same is true here in Exeter. However the offices of the Capitol Taxi firm, which is just across the road to the left of the main station exit, do have a secure luggage room and charge 1.50 GBP per item. I have no idea how long you can leave your luggage but I have left mine for two days without being charged any extra. Because it is a taxi office it is manned 24hours and so ideal if you are just in Exeter for the day and don't want to haul your kit around.
Situated in the Cathedral Yard this is where Sir Francis Drake and his Captains are supposed to have discussed their tactics for repelling the Spanish Armada.
Sir Walter Raleigh also drank here.
Built in 1529 as part of a building to house the Anneullar Priests. If you left these guys a sum of money in your will they would pray for your soul every year on the date of your death. It became a coffee shop in 1596 but became Mols in 1700 when Thomas Mol, an Italian, opened it as a coffeeshop specifically for local business men and dignatories. It became an art gallery in the 19th century and now sells maps and stationary.
It was designed to resemble the prow of an Elizabethan galleon and the Dutch and Tudor windows contain over 230 panes of glass.
Favorite thing: Exeter - a great place for shopping! The modern High Street and the surrounding streets are packed full of modern up-to-date shops, such as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Topshop, and fast food restaurants, along with the more traditional shops. There are some very fine restaurants in or just off the High Street, and the prices are very reasonable for a city centre. I liked to shop here, and for the ladies it must be wonderful! There are a number of large car parks, and spaces are usually easy to find, excep in the busiest periods, such as Christmas.
Because of its strategic location, Exeter was besieged by the Danes in the 9th and 11th centuries, by William the Conqueror in 1068, by Yorkists in the 15th century and by religious factions in the middle of the 16th century. There are ruins of the Roman walls, and of Rougemont Castle (11th century), built by William the Conqueor. Exeter was severely damaged by bombing in the Second World War, and the greater part of the city has since been rebuilt. There are, however, many fine examples of English archetecture in and around the city centre, including the Cathedral, and the Guildhall, in High Street.
Fondest memory: Exeter, on the River Exe, is the administrative centre of the county of Devon. It is a market, transportation and distribution centre. There is light manufacturing, with metal and leather goods, paper, and farm implements as the chief products. In my view, Exeter is a pleasant city for shopping, and better than Plymouth.
This is the specialty of Devon: tea served with scones, jam and clotted cream.... definitely sinful!!!! But you have to try it if you go to Devon: it's so good!!
Fondest memory: Walking with my Isca School friends around the city and trying cream teas and iced cappuccinos (with whipped cream) in all cafes..lol
Favorite thing: And another view of Exeter High Street. Extere is brilliant for Christmas Shopping too. Even in the high season, there is usually somewhere close by to park your car.
Favorite thing: One of the many attractive buildings in the High Street. Sorry, but I couldn't get all of it in!