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Exeter - Devon
The cathedral city of Exeter, commercial center and county town of Devon was greatly damaged by the Luftwaffe during WWII. Extensively rebuilt, it still retains much of its former medieval and later character. (The city can be reached by air from Gatwick, by train from Paddington, bus from Victoria Station, or the M4 motorway, turning south at the junction with M5).
The Romans came here first; then came a period of growth under Alfred the Great, followed by the Normans, who began the great cathedral.
Two Norman towers remain at St. Peter's, but most of the building was reconstructed in the early 14th century, when the largest unbroken Gothic ceiling in the world arches over a nave that shows the English Decorated style in full flower. Twice daily tours point out the sculptures, roof bosses, Bishop's throne and 13th century misericords, the oldest in the land.
Near Exeter Cathedral, a fine Elizabethan survival is Mol's Coffee House, while the nearby beautifully-preserved Guildhall is England's oldest municipal building in regular use. Opposite St. Petrock's is Parliament Street, which narrows to an impossible 25 inches at this end. Many other Tudor houses are to be found in the area. The opulent Custom House, located on the old Quayside, dates from 1681.
Tours of the underground passages that once brought water to the city center and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum also attract visitors. Not to be missed is the Exeter Maritime Museum, with the world's largest collection of English and foreign craft, from Dhows to Junks, canoes to tugboats.
Next Stop: Torquay