Page updated 17 September 2008
Martins Lane that runs from the High Street into Cathedral Close was subject in 1286 to having one of the seven entrance gates into Cathedral Close, placed at its exit into the close. Classed as one of the superior gates, suitable for carts, and in the 19th-century, the Defiance stagecoach departed the Royal Clarence Hotel, for a few months after the gate was taken down. The outline of a vaulted arch can still be seen on the side of the SPCK Bookshop. The position of the gate is still marked by opposite posts, with rings. The gate was removed in August 1820 on condition that the lane was to "be made a flat pavement for foot passengers only".
The Council considered, in 1874, widening Martin's Lane and creating a new street behind St Martin's Church towards Southernhay to improve access to the east of the city. In the event, Bedford Street and Circus was improved.
Before 1830, Mr Samuel Porter carried on his trade of upholsterer from Martin's Lane. It was also the home of the only kid glove manufacturer in Devonshire during 1860, when W Adams would sell a pair of gloves from 1s.
Martins Lane was also known as Luxury Lane and Fyshe Street. The Ship Inn, is situated in Martins Lane and is a popular destination for those visiting the historic parts of the city. A central street lamp, at the Cathedral Close end, has been there since 1817, when Martins Lane became the first street in Exeter to be lit by gas.
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