Exeter History


The Romans arrived in the Southwest about 50 AD and they built a wooden fort on a hill in Exeter near the river Exe at the lowest point where it could be easily crossed. The Romans made Exeter the administrative centre of Southwest England. 

The Danish tried to take Exeter in 1001 but the army warded them until they destroyed the town. In 1050 the bishop moved his seat to Exeter, after it had been rebuilt. Exeter was the centre of a rebellion in Southwest England in 1068. The Normans lay siege to Exeter for 18 days but they were unable to capture it. In Medieval Exeter the main industry was making wool. Exeter was also an important port in the Middle Ages.

Tudor Exeter was a large and important town. The main industry was still the manufacture of wool but there was also a thriving tanning industry. June 1643 saw the royalist army lay siege to the town. Exeter was forced to surrender in early September. However parliamentary forces recaptured Exeter early in 1646.

During the 19th century Exeter continued to grow but dwindled to being a quiet market town. The traditional industries of wool manufacture and tanning in Exeter also declined. Exeter ceased to be an important manufacturing centre. In May 1942 the Germans bombed Exeter and they destroyed much of the town centre. The city centre was rebuilt in the 1950's and Exeter university was founded in 1955.

Today most of the workforce in Exeter is employed in service industries such as tourism, education and public administration. In 2004 the Met Office moved to Exeter and in 2007 a new shopping centre opened at Princesshay. Today the population of Exeter is 118,000.