Page updated 3rd July 2012
Before the city wall was breached, by removing the medieval church of All-Hallows-on-the-Walls (not to be confused with its later, demolished, namesake in Bartholomew Yard) to build New Bridge Street in 1770, traffic had to turn left at the bottom of Fore Street and travel down West Street to leave the city by the West Gate. The lower end of West Street used to run, inside the city wall, as far as the Quay Hill, at the rear of the Custom House. Now it ends where it merges with Western Way. The top end is narrow and parts have changed little in the last 100 years.
It was in 1844 that ragged schools were first founded in London to 'elevate the condition of the poor and ignored children'. Exeter introduced its first ragged school in 1846 in Rack Street. By 1860, the school only catered for girls, as the boys went to Mary Arches Street. The school closed in December 1876.
The modern lower end of West Street has three buildings of real note. No 11 and 13, next to Stepcote Hill, are 15th-century buildings, with
shops on the ground floor, the principal living room over and surmounted by the solar room. The tower of St Mary Minor Church (see Churches
and High Schools - St Mary Minor) dating from about 1150, has the Matthew the Miller clock made in 1619-21 on its front - wait for it to
perform on the hour. The building in West Street next to the remains of the old North Gate, started life in the 15th-century as the
Merchant House in Frog Street. In 1961, it was moved to its present position at the bottom of West Street for a road widening scheme. See
the House that Moved photo essay.
Numbers 11 and 13(12) West Street are a well known tourist attractions at the bottom of Stepcote Hill. The trades of the occupants in 1897 along with the next three buildings were:
Source: Various sources including a leaflet Exeter City Wall by the Devon Archaeological Society, Victoria Exeter by Robert Newton.
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