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Description:Enclosed precinct (occupying much of the area from South Street to Egypt Lane, and from the city wall to the High Street); the open area to the north and north west of the cathedral functioned as the main burial ground for medieval and early post-medieval Exeter, until the opening of the Bartholomew burial ground in 1637 (see Monument No. 11269). See also the monument descriptions for the individual gates of the close, established as a part of the same process (Monument No’s 11103-08). The Close was enclosed in the aftermath of the murder of the precentor, Walter Lechlade in 1283 (an event recounted by Frances Rose-Troup in Exeter Vignettes, 1942, 38-57). Jenkins describes the circumstances as follows: '... agreement was made between the Mayor and commonalty, on the one part; and the Bishop, Dean and Chapter, on the other part: in which, the said Mayor and citizens, for the better security of the resident clergy, gave them (by a deed) liberty to encompass the whole close and cemetery of St Peter, with a high wall; and to erect the following gates: viz. St Michael's (now Broadgate), St Martin's, Berkley (St Catherine's), Palce, Dean's (Beargate), St George's (Littlestile), and St Petroch's (now shut up: the passage is partly remaining, by the side of the Globe Tavern, a house being built where it entered into South-gate-street, and which is now inhabited by Mrs Perkins, a Broker): but the Mayor and citizens reserved to themselves their full judicial power and privileges which they had been possessed of before this agreement. This deed is dated the 25th of March, 1286, and is witnessed by the Lord Hugh de Courtenay, the Lord, Oliver de Dinham, Hugh Peverell de Sampford, Richard de Poltimore, Henry de Raleigh, Henry de Parle Bean, Sheriff of Devon, and Thomas de Pinn, Knights. Before this time, the church-yard of St Peter, was open to the High-street, with only a low wall, like those surrounding country church-yards: nor were any buildings erected on that side the street'. (Jenkins 1806, 49-50; REN 11347). There has been much discussion of the nature of the enclosure of the Close (from full-scale fortification with high walls, to ephemeral marking of boundaries). The mapping of this event has several unconventional and contentious aspects. One is that the monument has been consigned to period MD4 rather than the more strictly accurate MD3 (for an event which happened in 1285-6). This is to allow the single layer of MD3 mapping more accurately to reflect events and monuments of the whole MD3 period, and on the reasoning that the enclosure although taking place 15 years before the end of MD3 really belonged in broad chronological terms to period MD4. The limits of the close as enclosed also remain conjectural, and subject to alteration, especially along the north-west side of the close.

Extant: Yes
Grid reference:SX920925
Map reference: [ EPSG:27700] 292044, 92514
Periods:1285 - 1540
Identifiers:[ ADS] Depositor ID - 11347.0

People Involved:

  • [ Publisher] Exeter City Council

Bibliographic References:

  • Jenkins, A. (1806) The History and Description of the city of Exeter and its environs ancient and modern, pp. 49-50. Exeter.