A Visit to Exeter – Marcus Green

27th July 2020

Marcus recalls a visit to Exeter Cathedral from before lockdown. And guess what. Now we can all visit Exeter Cathedral again.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve all been missing. We’d definitely recommend a visit to Exeter Cathedral!

I went to a school in Sutton Coldfield called “Bishop Vesey’s”

The Bishop, was a local lad who had done well for himself, become Bishop of Exeter and bestowed many gifts on the town including its enormous park, school and obtained a Royal Charter from Henry VIII.

When I visited Exeter I asked one of the very knowledgeable guides if there was a memorial anywhere to Vesey.

She asked if I was from Sutton and when I confirmed this she said

“When Vesey became Bishop here, Exeter was very rich and Sutton Coldfield, very poor. By the time Vesey left Sutton was very rich and Exeter very poor”

Needless to say there is little to remember Vesey by in this great cathedral which leaves plenty of room for the ample other treasures.

Exeter Cathedral Visit

Where do you even begin, this is one of the world’s great gothic buildings with a strong Norman heritage, those two huge towers punctuate the building and stamps its presence on the city firmly. The Norman parts can be seen in other parts but this is well and truly a Gothic masterpiece and the West frontage is brilliant. At one point this would have been painted, no doubt that would have stopped pilgrims in their tracks.

When you go in you are immediately greeted by the longest vaulted ceiling in England. On its own this is breath-taking but there is much to enjoy in the details.

A unique and newer detail is the Exeter Rondels, a tapestry of over 70 metres length telling the history of the country, cathedral and city over the last thousand years, it skirts its way round the building and is absolutely fascinating, Bishop Vesey does get a passing mention!

Two especially interesting things to spot are the Astronomical Clock which show the moon cycle, time and where the sun is in the sky, these clocks are not uncommon in the South West but this one is especially beautiful, then there are the Misericords, which include the first known depiction of an elephant in England dating from before 1260.

There is much else for the visitor to see here and even if you can’t get in just yet, there is a very good walk through tour on their website.

I am looking forward to revisiting, it’s a really interesting cathedral and the knowledgeable guides will help and point out things you might otherwise miss.

Take a visit to Exeter Cathedral

Marcus has already written about his various visits to our cathedrals including Truro, Blackburn Cathedral,  Birmingham and Worcester.

He is a part-time management consultant focused on voluntary sector leadership. He is also the CEO of Action Pre-eclampsia. His photography has been widely published everywhere from the Washington Post to Vogue. In 2019, in advance of the Year Of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage he decided to attempt to visit and photograph every Anglican and Catholic Cathedral in England and Wales.

Follow Marcus on Twitter, @MarcusChurches and visit his website here.