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Exeter College

Exeter College


Although founded in 1314 by the Bishop of Exeter, to provide education for scholars from Devon and Cornwall, the only medieval building to survive is Palmer's Tower, now part of the Rector's Lodging. This was the original gatehouse onto Somnour's Lane, of which only scraps survive, in Ship Street and St Michael's Street. The hall (1618) is impressive, with a collar-beam roof of Spanish chestnut. The chapel, recently re-furbished, was designed by George Gilbert Scott, inspired by Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Look for the new carvings - some by apprentices - and for the small patch of dirty wall - to show 'before' and 'after' cleaning. Exeter could be called the 'cradle of the Pre-Raphaelite movement', since William Morris and Edward Burne Jones were undergraduates here when they first met Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Look for Morris' tapestry, 'The Adoration of the Magi' in the chapel.
One of the first former all-male colleges to accept women in the 1970's, Exeter was the first such college to appoint a female Rector, Professor Marilyn Butler. Her name is celebrated on the Turl Street wall of the college by a series of carvings. See if you can spot them to the right of the Lodge. Clue: 'm' for 'marigold', 'a' for 'archer'.......
Alumni include many writers such as JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman (Exeter features in 'His Dark Materials' as 'Jordan College', Martin Amis, and John Fowles. Also the factory reformer, Anthony Ashley Cooper, first Earl of Shaftesbury and Richard Burton, the actor, associated with Oxford Playhouse.
'Inspector Morse' fans seek out Exeter, as the location for Morse's unexpected death from a heart attack in the front quad.
Don't miss the wonderful views of the Radcliffe Camera from the garden.
And look out for the life-sized unclothed sculpture of Anthony Gormley on Blackwells Art Bookshop roof. Students have been known to feel sorry for him and provide the odd article of clothing.........

Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)

Opening details

Daily 14.00 - 17.00

The information given is intended for guidance only. Opening hours are subject to functions, examinations, conferences, holidays etc., and charges are subject to review.

You are advised to check opening times and admission charges in advance.


Free entry

Maximum 20 people in a group.


The Bursar

01865 279600


Turl Street,

  • Self-assessed Accessibility Information

University, free entry



See location of Exeter College on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: SP 514063  Lat: 51.75303 Long: -1.25678

Turl Street OX1 3DP


  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)

Self-Assessed Accessibility Details


  • YesSteps to the main entrance
    • 1
      Number of steps to entrance


  • Main Entrance - 1 step. Quads - Level. Chapel - 5 steps

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