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Exeter Castle

Visited  April 2012

Location Exeter, Devon
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station Nearby Exeter Central
Parking City centre
Facilities None- but city amenities nearby







The castle at Exeter was known as 'Rougemont' which refers to the red stone that it was made from. It was built soon after the Norman Conquest, William would have needed to control the city as it had put up a strong resistance when he originally laid siege. It took 18 days before the city surrendered- it is thought that King Harold's  (he of the arrow in his eye at the Battle of Hastings)  mother Gytha was living in Exeter at the time and was directing the resistance against William. It seems that Exeter had its share of feisty women as fast forward 500 years or so and it was a gang of women armed with pitchforks who attacked the workmen who came to St Nicholas Priory in the city centre during the dissolution of the monasteries, whilst the men of the city stood around with their hands in their pockets, or something.


The castle which William built was on a mound of volcanic rock, already occupied by an earlier Saxon castle which had been destroyed by the Danes. William's castle incorporated the last remaining Saxon tower, known as Athelstan's Tower, into his new castle. This tower can still be seen today, the best view is from Northernhay Park. Not much of the Norman castle survives today, the site being occupied by some Georgian buildings which were used as the courthouse for many years.


However, the gatehouse is still in good shape, and can be viewed at the castle entrance on Little Castle Street. This is still the main approach to the castle site, but once there would have been a moat and a drawbridge. The gatehouse has changed little over the years so is a good example of Norman architecture.






Most of the castle wall and several towers survive today and can be viewed from the nearby parks. I say 'viewed' as there is not much access - all the doors to the towers seem to be locked, even the 13th century King John's Tower, which had been turned into a pleasant looking seating area inside- was firmly locked on the day we visited. It is a shame really that there is so little of the castle available to the public. 'They are a bit mean with the castle access in Exeter' as Biggest Sis put it.


There are several other attractions in Exeter to combine with the castle to make more of a day of it.  There is a section of the city walls still in existence if you want to take a look. We also enjoyed the Tudor House Museum in the aforementioned St Nicholas Priory, and of course the Cathedral looks very beautiful from the outside- we did not go in though as I baulked at the entrance fee. 


NB: On a return visit in 2019 we did go in the Cathedral- there are some pictures on our article about St Nicholas Priory.




More info: Exeter Castle

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