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History of Exeter: A Brief Overview

The city of Exeter stands as a testament to the enduring passage of time. Its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and vibrant culture are steeped in the legacy of centuries past.

Let’s explore the history of Exeter.

History of Exeter - The Romans

Nestled in the heart of Devon, South West England, Exeter boasts a storied past that takes us on a captivating journey through time.

The history of Exeter begins in the remarkable days of the Roman era, around 50 AD, when the Romans planted their flag in this region. Eager to establish their presence, they erected a wooden fort atop a strategic hill near the River Exe, and christened the settlement Isca Dumnoniorum.

This bustling town featured a rectangular marketplace, adorned with bustling shops and a grand basilica, and public baths that served as popular hubs for socialising.

However, it's worth noting that Roman Exeter did not quite enjoy the same level of prosperity as its counterparts in other parts of the country, setting the stage for the city's future evolution.

Further explore the Roman history in Exeter, and embark on Daily Red Coat Tours, that will uncover hidden secrets that you may not have known about.

History of Exeter - Post Romans

The Romans eventually bid farewell to Britain in 407 AD, and Exeter's vibrancy dwindled in their absence.

The city would soon witness a new chapter in its history as the Saxons, hailing from Germany, began their conquest of Eastern England, eventually reaching the shores of Devon by the 7th century.

Within the ancient Roman town walls, they established a monastery, dubbing it Exe ceaster – a name that would eventually transform into the Exeter we know today.

Fast forward to the late 9th century, a time when the legendary Alfred the Great embarked on an ambitious endeavour to secure his kingdom. He created a network of fortified strongholds known as burghs, and Exeter proudly joined the ranks of these formidable citadels, solidifying its importance in the region.

In the late 11th century, a pivotal chapter was written when William the Conqueror invaded in 1066.

High atop a commanding hill, overlooking the city, Rougemont Castle emerged as a symbol of Norman authority. This fortress served a dual purpose, not only to assert Norman control over Exeter, but also to shield it from the menacing spectre of Viking raids.

The 12th century brought about a spiritual renaissance in Exeter, as the awe-inspiring Exeter Cathedral took its place in the cityscape. Crafted in the majestic Norman architectural style, the cathedral is celebrated for its twin towers, a timeless testament to the craftsmanship of the era.

Exeter's economic fortunes soared in the 14th century, to unprecedented heights, as it became a thriving hub for the wool trade. Yet, as history so often dictates, times of prosperity were accompanied by times of turmoil.

During the English Civil War, which raged from 1642 to 1651, Exeter found itself at the centre of the conflict, held firmly in the grasp of Royalist forces.

But Exeter's indomitable spirit prevailed, and in the aftermath of the war, it emerged stronger than ever. The city continued to evolve, transforming into a bustling commercial centre, where the echoes of its rich history still resonate to this day.

History of Exeter - Exeter University

The roots of the University of Exeter stretch deep into the annals of the 19th century, bearing witness to a remarkable evolution that has shaped its prestigious standing today.

Its origins can be attributed to three distinct educational establishments:

  • St Luke’s College: Established in 1838.
  • Exeter School of Science: Established in 1855.
  • Exeter School of Art: Established in 1863.
  • Camborne School of Mines: Established in 1888.

These institutions, like chapters in a grand book of learning, later converged into a singular entity, known as the University of Exeter, following the receipt of its royal charter in 1955.

The University of Exeter boasts an impressive selection of venues that are tailor-made for a wide range of events, making it a top-notch choice for your next gathering.

Situated conveniently near major transportation hubs and a leisurely stroll away from the heart of Exeter, the enchanting Streatham Campus stands out as a unique and hidden gem, awaiting your discovery.

Modern Day

If you're looking to be a part of this city's story, to make your own history, then you're in for a treat.

Whether you're planning a wedding that would make history books envious or searching for the perfect venue to host your next corporate event, Event Exeter has you covered.

With a diverse range of venues that showcase Exeter's unique charm, we provide you with a seamless connection to the city's vibrant event scene.

Get in touch with us today.

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