Exeter Cathedral – hidden wonders

On our recent trip , we made sure we visited Exeter Cathedral. It has a particularly special place in my  heart as it is where my son celebrated his graduation. Do pop and see ‘My Pride’ to see how much he and the cathedral mean to me!

It’s all yellow

The first thing that struck me was that the colour I felt was yellow (or probably gold) and as it was Christmas time, this felt odd. Christmas is red and green isn’t it? Although we have visited the cathedral many times, we haven’t done it as tourists with the ‘Welcome to Exeter Cathedral’ guide. What gems we have missed. But first back to the colour. The flower arrangements were beautiful as was the tree and when you looked closely you could see that it was gold and not yellow. This matched perfectly with the gilded gates going into the choir stalls.


gold in Exeter Cathrdral


Look up!

Minstrel's Gallery Exeter Cathedral



Firstly, there is a unique 14th century Minstrels Gallery.Our guide tells us that it has 14 carved angels with 12 playing instruments. Having done a bit of googling about this I found this article about the mystery of the apparently missing instrument of one of them. See here to find out more.



Next we have the bosses. I have had a fondness for church bosses since York Minster was struck by lightening in 1984 and a fire causing £2.25 million damage resulted in the roof being severely demolished. The children’s TV programme Blue Peter ran a competition to replace 6 of the bosses and I can only think of the pride both the children and families must feel when they look at them. I always have to look at the Blue Peter bosses when we visit York.

No children’s bosses at Exeter but they are still very impressive and have a special one that depicts the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170.

Becket Boss

Becket Boss









Other gems

There is a very attractive Driftwood Cross by Naomi Hart in the chapel of St James. Very simple but very moving.

Driftwood cross


Moving from the Quire you can see the Elephant ‘misericord’. It is one of 50 of these tip-up seats that enabled choristers  to rest during the service without sitting. These were carved in the 13th century making them the oldest set in England.


Elephant misericord


Last but not least…

You couldn’t visit Exeter Cathedral without marvelling at the Astronomical Clock that dates from 1484. An addition of a minute dial was added in 1760 due to the need for more accurate time keeping with the arrival of horse drawn coaches providing the the first form of public transport. Previously, the workers in the fields just needed to hear the hours chime.


Astronomical clock


The real-life guide who spoke to us clearly had a passion for this gem of the cathedral and was rightly proud of it’s accuracy.

We had a wonderful time (forgive the pun) exploring Exeter Cathedral, made all the more amazing because we thought we knew it. If you are down Devon way do pop in, take a leaflet and explore!

Have you missed gems in a familiar place?


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