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Philip Evans


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Fascinating tour of Exeter for RBL women

Thursday, 01 May 2014

Tony Burges, an official City of Exeter Guide gave a fascinating tour of Exeter City, verbally and visually at the Axminster Women's Section, Royal British Legion's April meeting. From Celtic origins, Roman and Anglo Saxon invasions followed by the Norman conquest, Exeter has acquired a wealth of architecture, from medieval to Tudor, Stuart and Georgian. Even Roman baths have been discovered in recent years. The cathedral, of course, features greatly in any tour of Exeter and members learnt that the Normans built the first small church on the site which, whilst retaining the original Norman towers, was reconfigured to incorporate wonderful flying buttresses and a much larger building, finally reaching completion in 1330. This was mainly due to the vision of the Bishop of Branscombe, who was inspired by Salisbury Cathedral. During WWII, Exeter, along with other cities, was badly bombed but, thankfully, apart from the Chapel of St James, the Cathedral escaped unscathed, a miracle in itself. Its stunning exterior architecture and superb interior is a monument to the many who laboured to produce such a wonderful edifice. Sadly St Catherine's Almshouses did not survive, but fortunately the beautiful 800-year-old guildhall has and a tour around the city today bears testament to Exeter's incredible history and fortitude. One of the members, Jill Banfield, born in Exeter, whose ancestors ran the chain ferry, discovered fresh information about the city; for instance the Countess Wear bridge originates from a Norman Countess who built a weir to stop lighters unloading their wares at the Quays. This in turn caused the city to build a canal to continue trading with the outside world. Many memebrs were so inspired by his talk that some are going to book a guided tour to learn even more than the allotted hour's talk permitted. However, the ghost tour by night may prove a step too far! At a meeting which followed the talk, members learnt that a Lent Lunch at Tatworth Church, organised by two members, raised £100 for the RBL and the coffee morning in the church rooms a further £327. Members were also reminded that we have been invited by Kilmington Branch to their Service of Dedication for their new standard on May, 11th together with our standard bearer. The next meeting is May 9th at the senior citizens rooms at 7.30pm when the Chairman will relate her recent trip with RBL Devon County to Battlefields of the Great War in Belgium and France. Visitors always welcome.

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