Monday, September 2, 2013

First Stop, Exeter

Having changed countless trains in Exeter, we decided this trip that we would get off the train and stay overnight to get a feel of this city on the River Exe. The most westerly Roman outpost in the British Isles, it still retains much of its city wall. Refounded by Alfred the Great, it had become one of the largest towns in England by the time of the Norman Conquest. It retained its importance in part due to the expansion of the wool trade in the Tudor period.

Without a doubt, Exeter's pride and joy is its Cathedral, begun in 1112 and remodelled between around 1270 and 1350.

A fine example of the decorated Gothic style, it has the longest unbroken Medieval vaulted ceiling in the world! The vaulting gives the impression of a row of trees, with their branches reaching upward.

On the wall beneath this astronomical clock is a small wooden door with a round hole at the bottom (sorry, didn't get a photo of this as I didn't learn of the story until later). Between 1598 and 1621 this hole was cut to let the Bishop's cat inside. The ropes of the clock mechanism were greased with fat and this attracted mice and rats. It was the cat's job to keep the ropes from being chewed. The mice running up and down the mechanism of this clock is thought to be where the familiar nursery rhyme comes from... Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock, the clock struck twelve, the mouse ran down, hickory dickory dock.

The Rougemont Castle, inside the Rougemont Gardens, has only the gatehouse left of what was once a fortress erected by William the Conqueror in 1068.

The gatehouse is the oldest standing castle in Britian.

The plaque commemorates what are said to be the last people to be executed for witchcraft in England. The women were tried at the castle, hanged in nearby Heavitree, and were from Bideford.

And Bideford is the next stop on our travels...

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