The Devon and Exeter Institution was founded in 1813 at No.7 Cathedral Close. Before that, from 1662-1813, it was the town house of the Courtenays, the Earls of Devonshire.
The back of the house is Tudor – 16th century or earlier – but very little is known of the history of the fabric of No.7 between alterations later in the 16th century and its drastic early 19th century rebuilding as the Devon and Exeter Institution.
The existing front was originally a gatehouse, and is mostly of Heavitree Stone. Some of the original openings have been filled in with brickwork. At the top of the wall, there is a strip of modern half-timbering and a painted sundial.
No.6 next door was increased in size in 1807 by appropriating part of No.7: a brewhouse, kitchen and the covered passageway that gave access to the rear of the building. So at the bottom right of the front of No.6, you can see a blocked-up archway built of purple volcanic trap with Heavitree Stone blocks in the relieving arch above. But access was still needed, and another archway was built in the facade of No.7.
In 1814, No.7 was altered again to form a two-storey four-window frontage in the Georgian style. The arch over the front entrance roughly matches the arch of the passageway in its shape.
- Archaeology Data Service – http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record?titleId=1817072
- Historic England Grant-Aided Place – https://www.historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/grants/visit/the-devon-and-exeter-institution-library-and-reading-rooms-7-cathedral-close-ex1-1ez/
- Historic England Listed Building – https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1104062
- Demolition Exeter blog – http://demolition-exeter.blogspot.com/2012/03/subdeanery-no-6-cathedral-close.html
- Devon and Exeter Institution website – https://devonandexeterinstitution.org/
- Exeter Memories – http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/_organisations/dei.php