The city of Exeter is located in the county of Devon in southwest England, 201 miles SW of London and 46 miles NE of Plymouth. Exeter began as a Roman city, founded in the 1st century on the banks of the River Exe. Two centuries later it was encircled by a mighty Roman wall, traces of which still remain today. The fortress came under frequent attack in later centuries by the Vikings and other would-be invaders. In the 12th century, William the Conqueror and the Normans swiftly conquered the city. Exeter grew and prospered under the Tudors; Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake are among the important figures who frequented Exeter's streets. In May 1942, the Germans bombed Exeter, destroying many of its architectural treasures, but fortunately leaving most of the cathedral and some other historic buildings intact. For travelers interested in religious art and architecture, Exeter offers not only its must-see cathedral but also several interesting churches and museums.
St. Nicholas Priory
An 11th-century Benedictine monastery used as a merchant's house after the Dissolution. Only the refectory and west range survive, which are currently being renovated for reopening as a Tudor museum.
Considered the finest example of Decorated Gothic architecture anywhere, Exeter Cathedral was built mainly in the 13th and 14th centuries but also includes two stout Norman towers.
St. Mary Steps
St Mary Steps is a Late Gothic parish church with some Norman remains. Located just inside the Roman city wall near the old west gate, it is best known for the interesting old clock on its tower.
St. Mary Arches
St. Mary Arches is a parish church in Exeter, notable for the Norman arches for which it is named.