Today, we made the next leg of the journey in southern England on our quest to find the street where my grandfather was born. Today’s plan was to drive from the Cotswolds and go as far as Exeter.
We knew this was going to be a long drive—but only if we had known how long! Actually, the first two hours went very smoothly. It was when we took the exit to Exeter from the M5 that we really got into trouble, as we immediately made a wrong turn and drove 20 miles out of our way before figuring out a way to turn around. Eventually, we sorted out the direction, then just ended up getting very lost in the city of Exeter itself—to the point that I finally just parked the car in frustration and we went on foot to find our pre-booked hotel.
Find it we did, but by the time we returned to fetch our car, it was to discover we had been given a ticket (we just hadn’t seen the meter).
So, it began as a frustrating day, but once we dropped off our luggage, we set off into the city and had a wonderful time exploring it. There is an old wall that weaves through Exeter and we could see bits and pieces of it as we trekked.
Before long, we found St. Peter’s Cathedral, the construction of which began way back in 1114. So it is well old and showcases both Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It was absolutely stunning and, as we entered, a service was in progress and we could hear a beautiful choir. Marcie and I were so overwhelmed that we just sat there in meditative trance for a few moments.
There were many effigies, tombs, and monuments inside the cathedral. I was most fascinated by the monument shown below, which is for John Graves Simcoe. As you can see, his monument features a First Nations warrior on the right. That’s because Simcoe was the first governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and founded the city of Toronto. So, here was a surprising connection to home.
There was also a very interesting astronomical clock in one alcove:
In case you are wondering, it told the correct date and time!
After our exploration of the cathedral, we ventured back into the city and made our way to the quay, which was swarming with pigeons, ducks, swans, and geese (of the domestic kind), then back up again towards our hotel.
On this part of the journey we found a peculiar building marked “the house that moved.” Turns out that this house was moved some 70 meters back in the 1960s when its original street was slated for demolition. It would have been demolished, too, except for some last-minute heroics to move it to its present location, and preserve it. My imagination is percolating—there’s definitely an element or two of this story that can make it into one of my books.
Finally, here are a few doors that I discovered throughout the day. My favorite is the one with the elephant door knocker!