Exeter Cathedral From a Skip to a King

05th June 2020

It was found in a builder’s skip and now, 27 years later, it will be restored to the head of its rightful owner – a king on the West Front of Exeter Cathedral.

A crown belonging to this 14th century sculpture of a king was believed to have been stolen by a member of the public climbing the Cathedral’s West Front some time in 1993. The Cathedral, believing it would never be recovered, had a replacement crown made and installed on the king’s head the following year.

However, in 1995 the original crown was spotted in a builder’s skip, 35 miles from the cathedral, by a local resident – and thinking that it might be of some interest, took it to Exeter Museum, where Cathedral Archeologist John Allan immediately recognized it.

Exeter Cathedral

Exeter’s sculptures in this style are of national importance – with their asymmetrical pose, convoluted tubular folded draperies and flowing locks. Mr Allan said:

“They are fine examples of a particularly dramatic moment in the history of English medieval figure sculpture.”

And now, a happy ending, for essential restoration works to Exeter Cathedral’s West Front means that the crown can finally be restored to its king.

Exeter Cathedral is currently closed due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, but plans to welcome visitors and worshippers back from July 4, subject to government and Church of England guidance.