Page updated 17 September 2008
One of the seven gates around Cathedral Close, Palace Gate had its own, large 14th-century stone inner gatehouse called Bishops Gate. This building was modernised in the 18th-century and again in 1875, by William Butterfield, when he replaced the windows with stone mullions - only the twin slit opening are original. The entrance to the Bishop's Palace and gardens is through the archway, and can only be visited with a Redcoat Guide.
There was once a public house in Palace Gate, approriately named the Peter Bell. It was demolished in 1811 to widen the roadway; once, the street was a regular route for stage-coaches leaving and arriving the Royal Clarence Hotel and the Globe Hotel. If a public house does not seem appropriate for such an entrance to the Cathedral Yard and Bishops Garden, then the Palace Gate Baptist Hall helped to redress the balance. It still had to compete with Kennaways, the wine merchants, on the northern side of Palace Gate. Once, barrels of wine would be stacked outside the premises, on the pavement, ready for shipment, or to be stored in the cellars. Kennaways closed in Palace Gate in 1975.
The further away from the Westquarter, the less likely the risk of cholera in the 1832 outbreak, with Palace Gate accounting for one death out of 402 for Exeter. Walk across South Street from Palace Gate into Coombe Street and the story is very different with 23 deaths from the disease. That did not stop Bishop Philpotts at the time making sure he had business elsewhere, away from the city, during the outbreak.
An elderly woman was summonsed for soliciting in Palace Gate, in 1893, when she was seen by a policeman as she caught hold of "mere lads" and said "Come along my dear." The Mayor said the woman was "leading a very wretched life" and promptly sent her to prison for fourteen days. Such poverty and deprivation at the door of the bishops house.
Extensive refurbishment was made to the wooden gatehouse in 1768, when the large, wooden doors were modified to open wider and the roof was repaired. After the gate was removed in 1812, its position was marked with posts on opposite side of the old entrance - only this one remains as the roadway is now considerably wider than it was when the gatehouse was in place. Sir Walter Raleigh's parents lived in a house in Palace Gate towards the end of their lives, while Kennaways the wine and spirit merchants were based in the street.
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