Losing the Clarence

It isn’t often that Exeter makes the national news, which is a good thing. We’re a small city with mostly well behaved citizens, where bad things rarely happen. Last week though the unthinkable happened, a fire in the very heart of the city. At 5.20 in the morning, the Royal Clarence Hotel in Cathedral Yard caught fire, it’s believed that the fire began two doors down in the upper floors above a prestigious gallery, and the flying debris caused it to spread. More than 100 fire fighters worked to contain the blaze, and were still working three days later.

The Clarence was the first in the country to take call itself a hotel, a term copied from the French, prior to that there were only inns. The hotel was built in 1769, on the site of an earlier tavern and had a reputation for being haunted.

I’ve finally been to Cathedral yard to see the site for my self, here are some photos.

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There were no injuries and for that we must be thankful. Quite a few shops around the hotel, including on the High street were slightly damaged and remain closed. Demolition work began this week, and owner has pledged a sensitive re-build, we have to hope.

I’ve posted both of these photos before, but first the hotel in the centre, with the cathedral green on the left and the buildings on the right date from 1500.

The hotel has always looked splendid at night. To the right 15th century St Martins,built on the site of a previous church from 1065, and Mol’s Coffee House, built in 1596 with it’s Dutch style gables.


Exeter suffered a great deal of damage during the blitz, including to the cathedral, but nearly all the buildings along the Yard survived, it’s desperately sad to see this part of our heritage destroyed.


13 thoughts on “Losing the Clarence

  1. Always sad to see a part of history disappear but thank goodness no-one was injured. I know it was an historical building and dear to the hearts of Exeter folk, but from the coverage on the local news you’d think a person had died, and if I have to see the crane knocking down the facade one more time I think I might scream! Good that you have photos of it though.

  2. When things like this happen it can be stressful even if it isn’t happening to us.
    It’s something we connect to that us feels sad. A nicely written account about what
    happened, Gilly, I agree with you let’s hope they maintain the sensitivity of its
    heritage. Have a lovely Sunday … Issy 😎

  3. Reluctant to like this one, Gilly, but you have a couple of fine photo memories. It was one heck of a blaze. Let’s hope they can do a good job with the restoration. Huge Sunday hugs! You’ve been busy 🙂 🙂

  4. So many people affected by this fire in so many ways. Fire’s such a sneaky bastard, and it’s power is unstoppable. I’m glad I won’t be in Australia for summer, but obviously I’m not immune in Warsaw if the Clarence and the high street can be damaged. Is your walking energy back?

    1. Not really no, a mile is about it as well as pootling and doing bits indoors.
      I can’t imagine what it’s like when huge areas of bush go up in flames, let’s hope there’s none of that this year.

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