Exeter has been a port since Roman times. On the corner at the bottom of Quay Hill is the old Quay House, where you can see the original dock wall, weathered by the constant action of the water. There is a good if rather defaced information board about the old Woollen Trade here.
The rendered wall on the building next to the Quay House shows rather nicely how Heavitree Stone was often used. You can see how patches of the underlying stone are exposed where the render or facing stone has worn off. It was often used this way, as a kind of base layer with render or some other harder wearing material on top, so it is there but hidden under the facade of many old buildings in the city.
The Custom House was built in 1680 at the height of Exeter’s woollen cloth industry and is well worth a visit. It has some great displays but is also renowned for its sweeping staircase and fantastic ornate plaster ceilings. Entrance is free.
Walk a few yards back up Quay Hill and you can see Heavitree Stone on the corner and along the rear wall.
Further up the hill is the imposing City Wall, originally built by the Romans 1800 years ago. They preferred the local volcanic rock for building, but later repairs were often done with Heavitree Stone – it is a real patchwork! There is an information board here about the wall.
Along the back of the Custom House and on the left is another section of the wall with an arch built into it. Just above here was the old Watergate, the way up into the city from the dock.
- Our own ready-made Heavitree Stone Trail 3: The Quay & St Thomas.