Historic part of Exeter fenced off over concerns

-Credit: (Image: DevonLive)
-Credit: (Image: DevonLive)

An historic Exeter monument has been fenced off following an inspection. Exeter City Council says "some areas of concern" were highlighted during the inspection and that the area has been fenced off to "protect the public".

The ruins of St Catherine's Chapel and Almshouses on Catherine Street have been temporarily fenced off, pending a structural survey. It has been confirmed today (May 30) that a recent inspection identified cracks in some of the walls.

A sign on the fencing says: "A regular inspection of the City wall as highlighted some areas of concern. The Council is working quickly to address these concerns and this area has been fenced off as a precaution until a more detailed structural survey can be completed."

Exeter City Council says the city's historic monuments, such as the Roman wall, are regularly checked. The authority says it was necessary to erect fencing to "protect the public" and that an additional condition survey is being arranged to see if the structures on Catherine Street needs repairs.

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An Exeter City Council spokesperson said: "An inspection identified that there are cracks in some of the walls, so the fencing was put up to protect the public.

"A monument such as this needs to be checked regularly and we are about to commission a condition survey which will ascertain whether any repairs are needed and ensure that the structure is kept in good order."

According to Exeter Memories, St Catherine's Chapel and Almshouses were built in the mid-15th century. They were founded by Canon John Stevens DD in 1457 to house thirteen poor men and were built the following year. In the 17th and 18th century, married couples were allowed to live there and, in the 19th century, the rules were changed again to favour widows and single women.

The ruins of St Catherine's Chapel and Almshouses -Credit:DevonLive
The ruins of St Catherine's Chapel and Almshouses -Credit:DevonLive

In the late 19th century, Lady Hotham purchased the almshouses were sold to Lady Hotham who paid for their restoration and passed them onto the Church Army so they could be used as a hostel.

During the May 1942 bombing which battered Exeter city centre, the buildings were destroyed which was reportedly due to a fire which spread from the building next door. In 1961, the ruins were turned into a memorial for the destruction caused by the blitz.