Monday, 27 September 2010

No. 37, High Street: Demolished After 400 Years

Look past the shabby shop front and the modifications to the first floor windows and there lie a matching pair of Tudor merchant houses built c1570 in a prestigious location on the city's main thoroughfare. They were typical examples of the sort of building that would've filled the city streets by the beginning of the 17th century. Each house was one room wide, with a courtyard and kitchen block at the rear, the largest and most expensive room being reserved for the parlour on the first floor.

During the bombing of Exeter in 1942 the house came within metres of being destroyed by fire but the flames were extinguished just before they reached the building. At one point the building to its left, a fine Georgian bow-fronted house from 1805, was actually ablaze. The reprieve wasn't to last long. The site was ear-marked for redevelopment. An structural survey of No. 37 allegedly discovered that that the building was dangerous and it was conveniently declared to be unsafe. How fortunate for the developer and what a coincidence that the fine stone bank building at No. 38 was also demolished soon after. Perhaps it too was 'unsafe'.

The alleged structural instability was just the excuse that was needed. Having existed since the 16th century, having survived the English Civil War of the 1640s and the Blitz of 1942, and despite the fact that the city had already lost so many historic buildings to German bombs, No. 37 was subsequently demolished in the 1950s and replaced with the building shown right. Had the building survived into the 21st century then it would've looked almost identical to Nos. 41 & 42, which is now one of a handful of remaining timber-framed buildings in the city today.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Best to preserve and remember, as well as appreciate and utilize one's heritage, to be sure.

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