SX9292 : Exeter Cathedral and St Mary Major

taken 75 years ago, near to Exeter, Devon, Great Britain

Exeter Cathedral and St Mary Major
Exeter Cathedral and St Mary Major
Two years after the end of the Second World War, the severe bomb damage to the cathedral was still being repaired and the glass had not yet been replaced in the great west window.

To the right the view of the cathedral's south-west corner is masked by the church of St Mary Major, a Victorian replacement LinkExternal link for what was left of the original Saxon minster. Building of the new church began in 1866 under the architect Edward Ashworth and it won little praise, the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould in his Little Guide of 1907 describing it as "hideous". John Betjeman in the first Shell Guide to Devon (1936) found it "really vile", whilst Pevsner in 1952 acerbically commented that it was "Major only as an architectural disaster". This unloved building in its turn was demolished in 1971, enabling the Saxon remains to be explored and enhancing the greenspace amenity of this corner of the Cathedral Yard. The tip of the spire with its finial are preserved, embedded in the green, to mark the site where the church once stood - SX9292 : Site of the spire of St Mary Major church.
Exeter Cathedral

The majority of the building of the Cathedral church of Saint Peter as seen today was commenced in 1275 and externally is mostly of the Decorated period of Gothic architecture (c.1250-1350), though its foundations go back to Saxon times and there are substantial Norman and Early English parts. The Decorated period is itself split into two sub-periods, the earlier "geometric" sub-period (1250-1290) and the later "curvilinear" (1290-1350). Exeter Cathedral exhibits both these styles, but rather more from the former period despite its construction continuing well into the latter one. In general the eastern half of the building containing the Quire, Presbytery and Lady Chapel is from the early Decorated, while the nave is mostly of the later period, though the windows seen on the southern side of the nave abutting the Silent Cloister look more Geometric than Curvilinear to me.
The towers which rise above both transepts however exhibit Romanesque features such as semi-circular topped blind arcading. Romanesque architecture dates from the Norman period (c.1070-1180) so are part of the earlier minster built on this site by the Normans.
Exeter's greatest feature is probably its marvellously ornate West Front which is covered in statuary. This is one of the finest surviving examples of Decorated architecture in Britain. Unfortunately at the time of writing (June 2012) much of this glory is covered in the ugliest conceivable tatty garish wrapping, no doubt to protect it from the elements while repairs are carried out.
Internally the ceiling of the nave is "palm vaulted" typical of the transition from the Decorated to the Perpendicular period.
A surprisingly brief EH listing can be found here LinkExternal link
A detailed pdf map of the Cathedral area here LinkExternal link

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SX9292, 2438 images   (more nearby search)
Contributed by
Tiger   (find more nearby)
Date Taken
May 1947   (more nearby)
Saturday, 16 August, 2008
Cathedral   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SX 921 925 [100m precision]
WGS84: 50:43.3245N 3:31.7967W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SX 920 925
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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Other Tags
Cathedral Yard  Bomb Damage 

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