A small cathedral city in the county of Devon, Exeter may be small but it packs a punch! One of the most vibrant, attractive and historically interesting cities in England, it was the most south-westerly Roman settlement in Britain and became an important religious centre during the Middle Ages. After World War II, much of the city centre had to be rebuilt. It is now considered to an important hub for modern businesses and tourism in Devon and Cornwall.
There are historic buildings everywhere you look in Exeter, from the cathedral, founded in 1050, to St Nicholas Priory, the ruins of Rougemont Castle and the Guildhall, which has Medieval foundations and has been claimed to be the oldest public building in England still in use. Located just outside the castle, Northernhay Gardens were originally laid out in 1612 as a pleasure walk for Exeter residents and is the oldest public open space in England, while ‘The House That Moved’ is a 14th century Tudor building, earning its name from when it was moved from its original location on the corner of Edmund Street in order for a new road to be built. Weighing more than 21 tonnes, it was strapped together and slowly moved a few inches at a time to its present-day position.
Numerous theatres occupy Exeter including Northcott Theatre, Barnfield Theatre and Cygnet Theatre, while more innovative and contemporary performances, theatre productions and dance pieces are programmed by Exeter Phoenix in Exeter city centre and the Corn Exchange in Market Street. The annual Vibraphonic Festival is held in March, providing a fortnight of soul, blues, jazz, funk, reggae and electronic music, and the EMG Symphony Orchestra frequently presents concerts at Exeter Cathedral.
The base of Devon County Council is situated in the city, along with the Met Office, the main weather forecasting organisation for the UK. These are two of Exeter’s biggest employers, together with the University of Exeter and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. In fact, Exeter has been identified among the top 10 most profitable locations for a business to be based and around 35,000 people commute into the city on a daily basis for services, employment or shopping. Although Exeter contains a number of tourist attractions, the city’s economy is not dependent on tourism, as it only accounts for around 7 per cent of employment.