Exeter Cathedral, By WyrdLight. Wikipedia

Top 10 Interesting Facts about the Exeter Cathedral


Exeter Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral. It is also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exeter. It is situated in the city of Exeter, Devon in southwest England. The present building of cathedral was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. It has several notable features such as the Gothic style, misericord, and astronomical clock. It also provides a fascinating look at medieval Britain with its stunning architectural features and stories from the Romans to the Second World War.

The actual body of the current Exeter Cathedral was completed by 1400, and the improvements and renovation continued throughout the middle ages to the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the Cathedral allows visitors to explore its stunning architecture, sculptures, and stained-glass windows.

Even though the Exeter Cathedral has impressive it also contains some unusual features that provide the cathedral with its sense of character.

Some of the interesting facts that you should about the Exeter Cathedral include the following;

1.13th-century Misericords

These are decorative features found underneath the quire stall seat. They were removed from the building during World War II after they were considered to be precious. They are made of wood and are displayed in a glass cabinet outside the quire. The misericord of an elephant was considered the earliest portrayal of an elephant in Britain.

The first elephant in England was presented to King Henry II in 1253, it has even been suggested that the artisan may have worked from life.

2. The Bishop Edmund Stafford’s Effigy

Effigy of Edmund Stafford, Bishop of Exeter, By Effigy of Edmund Stafford, Bishop of Exeter by Rob Farrow, Wikimedia commons

Exeter Cathedral displays some notable memorial stones, they were dedicated to fallen soldiers of the Boer War to the 14th-century monument to the second Earl of Devon. Bishop Edmund Stafford’s effigy is a polychrome depiction that was originally designed to work in harmony with the black basalt effigy of his predecessor. Edmund Stafford died in 1419. It is covered in graffiti, it always attracts attention.

3. The 14th-century Minstrel’s Gallery

 The Minstrel’s Gallery was originally used as a screen to disguise performing choristers, which makes it a more striking feature in the cathedral. It dates to around 1360. Its front is decorated with 12 carved and painted angels playing medieval instruments. The instruments include a trumpet, organ, citole, recorder gittern, bagpipe, shawm, Vielle harp, and Jew’s harp.

It’s a unique and beautiful feature in England, which will undoubtedly catch your eye.  Since the gallery is beautiful as a whole.

4. The architecture

Inside the cathedral, showing the vaulted ceiling – the longest uninterrupted medieval vaulted ceiling in the world, by Edward Swift – Own work, Wikipedia

The Exeter Cathedral is a large, impressive Gothic Cathedral and one of the most popular sites in the city. It was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries. It provides a fascinating look into medieval Britain, with stunning architecture and unusual features.

The Cathedral’s stonework is breathtaking, with the world’s longest continuous stone vaulted ceiling. Some of the other fascinating features may include the Astronomical Clock, Bishop’s Throne, sculptures, and stained-glass windows. 

Visitors to Exeter Cathedral are allowed to explore the stunning architecture and the small features.

5. Cathedral Nave gothic vaulting

Cathedral Nave features the longest uninterrupted gothic vaulting in the world. It has a stunning vaulted stone ceiling. It also has intriguing stonework, memorials, and craftsmanship. That provides an inspiring and beautiful setting for any event. The Nave is said to be a popular venue e.g., for concerts.

The cathedral is also the largest and has a prestigious hospitality venue in Exeter, it works alongside some of Devon’s finest catering suppliers to host an event.

6. Museum of Moon Exeter

On, Thursday 3 February 2022, the museum of the moon landed in Exeter and was open till 27 February.

It is a representation of the moon by Luke Jerram. This art was combined with the inspiring architecture of the cathedral, thus offering a unique experience for everyone in the cathedral. The moon was supposed to attract new people to step inside the building and regular visitors.

The museum has attracted attention and praise from the world, since it has toured the USA, Canada, India, China, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and across Europe. Some of the settings of this art are ranging from swimming pools to train stations and outdoor city center spaces.

7. The Library and Archives

\\ Lady Chapel, where the library was originally located, By Diliff, Wikipedia

The cathedral library and archive are in the west wing of the Bishop’s palace, it is a modern library and archive facility. It has preserved the Dean & chapters of many thousands of books and documents, which span from the 10th to 21 centuries. The Library and archive are also accessible.

The library contains medieval manuscripts, early printed books, and modern published texts that are remarkable in the range of subjects. They include local history, theology, medicine, science, etc., while the archives contain unique original records documenting the history of the cathedral and its Dean& Chapter including the building, people, and former estates across Devon and Cornwall.

8. Cloister Garden

The Cloister Garden is a hidden gem of Exeter. Even though it is located at the center of Exeter the garden can be closed to the public. It only provides a secluded picturesque out space for the summer drinks receptions and weddings

The cloister at Exeter Cathedral was to be dedicated to Devon’s war dead but was later abandoned due to lack of funds. It was the first proposal for the county’s war memorial. Later on, the Devon County War Memorial Committee commissioned Lutyens to design a war cross instead.

9. Exeter Cathedral Service

The 17th-century organ case (enlarged in 1891)[33] by By Karl Gruber, Wikipedia

The cathedral service is always held on Sunday morning every week and it is usually live-streamed. Everyone in the service is usually catered for at the cathedral’s crèche or the cloister club. In the nave, the cathedral serves coffee after the service to encourage interactions among the worshippers. The cathedral choir sings throughout the service.

A vigil of prayer for peace in Ukraine was held at Exeter Cathedral, whereby about 150 people attended the cathedral. The vigil started outside the cathedral’s main west front entrance before it moved to the nave. The prayer vigil was to form part of a call for prayers across Europe.

10. Learning Tours and activities

The cathedral team offers a range of engaging and entertaining tours, workshops, trails, and booklets for educational visits. It also hosts debates and special services. The cathedral also offers virtual tours and audio guides to enable one to explore the cathedral by themselves. The tours are also free of charge.