Page updated 2nd July 2012
In 1570 a wealthy Exonian lawyer named Lawrence
‘did build him a fayre house
and called it Mount Radford’ at the end of what would
become St Leonards Road. He named the house Radford Place. During the
Civil War the house was fortified, along with many other properties
around Exeter. In common with some other fortified houses it had Mount
added to its name to become Mount Radford.
John Baring of Larkbeare House become a wealthy trader in Exeter woollen cloth. His youngest son founded Barings Bank in London, with his eldest brother John. John, remained in Exeter, in partnership with his middle brother Charles, as a woollen mercant. He purchased Mount Radford House and 17 acres of land for 2,000 guineas from the bankrupt John Colesworthy in 1755. The, by now, old medieval Mount Radford House was transformed into a grand Georgian mansion approached by a cedar tree lined drive, which ran from Magdalen Road to the house; it would later became St Leonards Road. Baring also moved Topsham Road forty feet away from the house, towards St Leonards Church and constructed a footbridge to the church from his grounds.
This was a house fit for a man of substance,
and John rapidly left his brothers to run the two family businesses,
and ran for Parliament to become an MP for Exeter from 1776. He died in
In the 1820's there was a building boom in Exeter and Sir Thomas Baring, John's son, sold off large tracts of land for development, including the land that would become Baring Crescent. The family vacated the house in 1826 when it became Mount Radford College. The college closed in 1902 and was demolished to make way for the development of Barnardo Road and Cedars Road.
Sometime later, the whole area was renamed Mount Radford, after the house. The grounds of the house are now a primary school.
A 19th Century photo of Mount Radford House. Courtesy of the Westcountry Studies Library. Mount Radford House in green superimposed over Cedar Road. Mount Radford Park when Barnardo Road was being constructed - circa 1903. The house was approximately where the partly built house and tree root are located.
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