Exeter Cathedral | Kidadl

Exeter Cathedral

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  • With the full title of the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, this monumental Exeter church is an Anglican cathedral in the Devon region of South West England.
  • Exeter Cathedral is one of the many fascinating historical things to do in the city and boasts the longest medieval ceiling in the world, which is a stunning 96 metres in length.
  • Hear the sacred music echo around the building as you attend one of the renowned Exeter Cathedral concerts or regular evensong services.
  • Be sure to add a brick to the model of the Big LEGO® Build during your visit too, a project that aims to build a 300,000 piece model of Exeter Cathedral from just LEGO toy bricks!

Founded in 1050, Exeter Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in England and is dedicated to Saint Peter. The construction of the building on its present site began in 1114, of which the two towers and lower part of the Nave walls survive. Between 1270 and 1350 the Cathedral underwent a major rebuild in Decorated Gothic style (following Salisbury Cathedral's style), which required six bishops oversight before completion.

As well as being a sacred place Christian worship and a treasured heart of the Christian community in Exeter, where visitors still gather to tell stories of their faith and the history of this grand institution, this awe-inspiring cathedral is also an epic work of art and impressive feat of architecture in itself. The building contains a huge range of artistic mediums, materials and forms within its structure, including stained glass, wooden and stone carvings, ceramics, precious minerals and metalwork, polychrome and gilding, exquisite painting and of course the rich abundance of song and spoken word that takes place within its walls. Rather than being a museum, this historic site remains a living, traditional community space that offers a different unique experience for every visitor each time they come.

There is so much for families to immerse themselves in here when they visit Exeter and this must-see landmark, you can easily spend a day here. Your kids will love adding a £1 LEGO brick to the Big LEGO® Build project, which aims to raise money for the Cathedral whilst helping visitors discover and engage with the challenges of maintaining the infrastructure of Exeter Cathedral. Add a brick during your visit and help complete the 300,00 piece LEGO model of the Cathedral - a project the whole family can treasure being involved in! To really make the most of your visit, you can also take a guided tour and dive deeper into the building's history with one of the Cathedral's experienced guides. Learn about the people who have influenced the Cathedral, hear about the building process, and delve into the secrets of its history. These tours run several times a day from Monday to Saturday and are included in your admission fee, so you should be in good stead to catch one on your visit to learn more about this historic church.
 

Alternatively, your family can also book one of the extra special tours around Exeter Cathedral and take in fascinating behind-the-scenes facts. The Roof Tours takes you - you guessed it - onto the roof voice high above the Nave and around other spaces including the Lead Room and the Ringing Chamber. If weather permits, you can also go onto the North Tower to take in the spectacular views of the city. Meanwhile, the Stones and Bones tour delves into the history of Exeter Cathedral Green, tracing its presence from Roman times and exploring the cemetery and other buildings (top tip: don't forget to bring your waterproofs with you just in case it's raining!). The Secret Space tour explores an off-limits space, taking your family through the significance of figures like the Dog Whipper to the Cathedral, and offers you the chance to see the secret and spooky witch marks.

If you're in Exeter over the festive season, one of the most exciting Exeter Cathedral events is the Christmas Market, which takes place on the Cathedral Green. Take in the bustling atmosphere and food stalls, and perhaps find a gift for your nearest and dearest. Otherwise, head to a seasonal carol service for some hearty hymn singing, or take in one of the other festive concerts, events, and educational activities taking place in December.

No matter what season you visit this dazzling cathedral in, there are also tons of wonderful things to do in Exeter as a family nearby. Lounge on the surrounding Cathedral Green with a picnic and explore the adjacent River Exe in summer, or head to the bustling Guildhall shopping centre and abundance of museums in the city on wet winter days, such as the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, the Surridge Gallery, the vibrant Exeter Phoenix venue or the fellow nearby landmark of Exeter Castle. For even more historic family fun just outside of the city, why not head to the fascinating Bygones Victorian museum in Torquay?

What to know before you go

  • From Monday to Saturday, Exeter Cathedral is open to the public from 10am to 4pm. On Sundays, it is open for services only.
  • Please note that the cathedral church is an ancient building, which means that some areas are more difficult for guests with wheelchair access needs or those with buggies.
  • The main floor - the nave, transepts, aisles, and Lady Chapel - is generally accessible, but be aware that at some points the floor may be uneven. Access to the Quire is possible via a ramp, and there are small, single steps into some of the smaller chapels in the building. Provided visitors pre-book, wheelchairs are available for hire, and there is an accessible toilet with level access should you require these facilities.
  • Should you not wish to take a guided tour, audio guides are available for your family to explore the Cathedral at your own leisure. These are freely available from the Welcome Desk and come in English, French, German, and Italian.
  • Alternatively, you can also purchase a Cathedral guide booklet for only £1.50, which provides in-depth detail about the church's history, as well as serving as a souvenir to remember your visit. These are available in English, German, and French.
  • There is a great Cathedral Shop on site which stocks a wide range of gifts and souvenirs, from cards and stationery to guide books and recordings of the Cathedral Choir.
  • During your visit, your family can grab some delicious quick bites from the Exeter Cathedral Café or have a refreshing ice cream from Salcombe Dairy stand during warmer months, which is situated just outside the Cathedral's west front.
  • Alternatively, if you're searching for sweet snacks nearby, head to March Café for a great coffee or The Lin Den for delicious vegan cakes. Plant Café, which is nearby, is also good for more wholesome vegan meals. You also can't go wrong with the Ship Inn, Lloyd's Lounge for a more upmarket treat, or one of the many family-friendly chain restaurants nearby such as Pizza Express, Wagamama or Cote Brasserie.
  • Don't miss the great range of Exeter events taking place on the cathedral grounds throughout the year, such as carol concerts, regular evensong services and the hugely popular Christmas markets.

Getting there

  • Exeter Cathedral is located in the city centre of Exeter in the South West England region of Devon.
  • The city of Exeter is easily accessible via the M5, A30, and A38. There is no public parking available at Exeter Cathedral, so consider using one of the Park & Ride locations in the city. There are three your family could use: Honiton Road, Sowton, and Matford, but note that the last two do not have Sunday service. Otherwise, you can park at the NCP Car Park Exeter Market Street,  Magdalen Road Car Park, or Cathedral & Quay Car Park, all of which are within easy walking distance to Exeter Cathedral.
  • Exeter has two rail stations: Exeter Central and Exeter St. David's. Exeter Central is a few minutes walk from the Cathedral. Exeter St David's Station is further, but the bus service H travels between the station and the city centre, and it is a seven-minute journey.
  • Everywhere in Exeter is within a 30-minute bike ride - the city is one of six Cycling Demonstration Towns in England - so you'll have no problem finding cycle routes and lanes, as well as quiet roads to help keep your family away from busier, heavier traffic. It also means you should be absolutely fine to travel to Exeter Cathedral by bike, as there are plenty of bike racks nearby to store your kit safely.

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