Exeter bombed


I love Exeter. It’s my local city, Devon’s county town, 12 or so miles from where I live in Teignmouth. It is a vibrant city, great for shopping (John Lewis is coming!), growing in business opportunities and with 18000 or so students at the world-renowned University and at various colleges and institutes. There is a growing arts scene, fabulous cafes, swish hotels, and a spanking new museum.

This has been quite a week for Exeter. Three days ago the Queen came for a visit and today the city remembered the Blitz with a range of performances and exhibitions in the centre.

A bit of history: In 1942, Exeter was chosen, along with other British cathedral cities such as Bath, Norwich, York and Canterbury, to be the target of sustained bombing raids by the Luftwaffe. These became known as the Baedeker Raids. The cities were supposedly chosen from the German Baedeker travel guides not for their strategic importance but for their beauty and history. The idea was to depress the national mood of the Brits and perhaps to get revenge for RAF raids of German cities such as Lubeck.

For some Exeter residents, it is a very different-looking place to the one they once knew, though there are still remains of the Roman wall, the Guildhall, ancient churches and of course the beautiful cathedral that only just survived losing its medieval roof.

For me, Exeter looks both to the past and to the future but it is a very exciting place to be right now.