Friday, 14 March 2014


I have posted pics of Exeter Cathedral before, but haven't posted a tour of the inside.  So when we visited last weekend, I righted this omission. 

The cathedral is, like so many others, set in largish gardens, a popular gathering place on sunny days.


You can see the mediaeval buildings that still surround it in the background on the left.  The oldest parts of the present structure are the 12th century Norman towers and nave walls.   The building was extensively remodelled in the 13th century, hence the more ornate Gothic exterior.

The main feature of the Cathedral though is the ceiling - the longest mediaeval vault in the world.


The central bosses are carved and painted and hold the whole thing together.  This is the Becket Boss (top middle), depicting the murder of St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170.

Here is a boss up close to give you an idea of size.

Unusually, there is also a minstrel gallery in the nave.  This was added in the 14th century.

Note the various musical instruments being played by the angels.  And this is a side window.

Glass from the main windows and many of the greatest treasures were removed during the War and thus survived when a bomb damaged the building in 1942.  The cassocks are embroidered with British plants and birds.  Although I thought they might have found some different birds to depict.

Across the centre of the nave is a 14th century screen and balcony.  The paintings were added in the 19th century.

Many of the tombs hark back to Britain's colonial past.

As do some of the carvings - this is on the pulpit, depicting the martyrdom of St Alban.

This is not quite the oldest tomb in the cathedral (there is a similar one dating from the 13th century), but I was quite shocked to see that someone had carved their initials in it.


An interesting 14th century husband and wife tomb.  Note the swans for her and the lion for him.

Those are the bass pipes of the organ in the background.  And this is the tomb of Bishop Oldham.

His name was apparently pronounced 'Owldom' and so the chapel is decorated throughout with owls - you can see them carved into the wall and embroidered on the kneeler

Here's a memorial that needs to be shown as a reminder to our present leaders.

This is the 15th century astronomical clock.

Note the hole in the base of the door underneath the main dial.  This was the mediaeval cat-flap for the Bishop's cat.  The clock ropes used to be greased with animal fat, a great attraction for mice, and so the cat was to make sure the mouse didn't run up the clock.

Some of the choir seats date from the construction of the cathedral and are the oldest in Britain.  But I was fascinated by the imaginative animal carvings.

There are more, even more fantastical, on the Bishop's throne.

The throne itself is supposed to be one of the finest examples of mediaeval carpentry; it's about 18m tall and constructed without any nails or screws.

And just to finish off, here is a modern bronze that I liked.


  1. As always a wonderful virtual tour, Neil! Looking at the ceiling makes me feel like I am inside the skeleton of a Very Large beast. I wouldn't have guessed that the bosses were anything like that big. It helps give perspective to the whole space knowing how big they are. Bahaha at the cassocks! How did anyone have enough time to get away with chipping their initials into the old tomb? I love how cheerful the carvings on the Bishop's throne are. They look like they are laughing!

  2. Fantastic.....just bloody fantastic. St. Alban is the patron saint of our little church here in the village. Those windows make us look very insignificant but we love ours too. I went back and read this again as it was so interesting. I was also looking for some of Charlie's Green Men. Did you see any?

    1. No, no green men here, Karyn; they are usually in more rural churches, but I'll keep a look out for them for you.