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About Exeter

Exeter was established on the eastern bank of the River Exe. Evidence shows that there was a settlement in the vicinity in pre-historic times. The physical form of the city, however, owes much to the Romans. During Roman times, Exeter became a thriving port and the gold and silver industry flourished. The city also became important for the cloth trade with much of its woollen cloth being produced at Cricklepit Mill on Exe Island. Weirs constructed on the river meant that by the fourteenth century it was impossible for boats to reach the inland city quay and a ship canal linking to Topsham was constructed in 1560. Topsham now a suburb of Exeter is a picturesque port with many of its attractive buildings displaying Dutch gables and constructed of imported Dutch bricks demonstrating its strong links with Holland.

There are many notable buildings in the city stemming from the important and prosperous periods of Exeter’s history. Despite destruction of much of the city in the Second World War there remains much that is worthy of preservation with over 1,600 Listed buildings. The Quay House the oldest brick building in the city, the Bishops Palace and Cathedral Close originating in Norman times and the medieval ruins of the Exe Bridge are all noteworthy. Many of the city's buildings have been constructed from the local red sandstone. Rougemount (Red Hill) Castle owes its name to the red sandstone hill nearby. Pavements in Queen Street are constructed of hardwearing and attractive diorite and granodiorite, intermediate rocks that would have been formed around the Dartmoor granite intrusion and quarried locally.

The historic quayside has been sensitively conserved and is now a good place for shopping, eating and drinking. The city has previously experienced other prosperous periods and gained a rich and varied architectural heritage. To save what had been spared by bombing campaigns in the Second World War stringent planning regulations have been imposed on the Conservation Areas of the city and help preserve the features which form their character. In this regard the insertion of UPVC windows or the removal of architectural features such as chimney stacks, pots, gate piers or decorative brickwork is discouraged. In addition, inappropriate alterations to garden walls, railings, entrance steps or paths are also prevented. These measures have been important in retaining the value of Exeter's historic buildings and added quality to its characteristic architectural mix of old and new, which now makes up a successful modern city.