In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Exeter like this:
Exeter, co. town of Devon, parl. and mun. bor., river-port, city, and co. of itself, locally in E. Devon, on the Exe, 10 miles by rail NW. of Exmouth at the outfall of the river, and 171 miles by rail SW. of London -- parl. bor., 3622 ac., pop. 47,154; mun. bor., 1867 ac., pop. 37,655; 5 Banks, 6 newspapers. Market-days, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Exeter was the Caer Isc of the Britons, the Isca Damnoniorum of the Romans, and a seat of the West Saxon kings. It was surrounded with walls by Athelstan, and made an episcopal see (1050) by Edward the Confessor. ...
The chief fortified town in the West, Exeter underwent, from the times of the Northmen to those of the Civil Wars, numerous sieges. It is still the principal place in the Western peninsula, and the centre of the Western system of railways. The woollen trade, of which it was at one time a great seat, has quite passed away, and its mfrs. are now confined chiefly to "Honiton" lace; but it has also some iron-foundries, manufactories of agricultural implements, paper-mills, corn-mills, and tanneries. The river traffic is still considerable. It is facilitated by the floating basin, and by the Ship Canal (begun in 1564) to the tideway at Topsham. Vessels of 300 tons can come up to the quay; larger vessels remain at Topsham, and those of the largest size at Exmouth. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) The principal objects of interest are -- the remains of the ancient walls; the cathedral (founded 1112, restored 1877), with its Norman transeptal towers; the remains of the castle, built by William the Conqueror; the Guildhall, an Elizabethan building, restored in 1720; and the Albert Memorial Museum (1868), with its school of art and its free library. Exeter returns 1 member to Parliament; it returned 2 members from the reign of Edward I. until 1885.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Exeter has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Exeter. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Exeter and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Exeter in Devon | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 31st October 2014
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