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Exeter Cathedral

Top choice in Exeter

Magnificent in warm, honey-coloured stone, Exeter's cathedral is one of Devon’s most impressive ecclesiastical sights. Dating largely from the 12th and 13th centuries, the west front is framed by extraordinary medieval statuary, while inside the ceiling soars upwards to the longest span of unbroken Gothic vaulting in the world, dotted with ornate ceiling bosses in gilt and vibrant colours. Look out for the scale Lego model that's being built beside the main entrance; for £1 you can add a brick.

The site has been a religious one since at least the 5th century, but the Normans started the current building in 1114; the towers of today's cathedral date from that period. In 1270 a 90-year remodelling process began, introducing a mix of Early English and Decorated Gothic styles.

Above the Great West Front scores of weather-worn figures line a once brightly painted screen that now forms England's largest collection of 14th-century sculpture. Inside, the exquisitely symmetrical ceiling soars up and along, towards the north transept and the 15th-century Exeter Clock: in keeping with medieval astronomy, the clock shows Earth as a golden ball at the centre of the universe with the sun, a fleur-de-lys, travelling around it. Still ticking and whirring, it chimes on the hour.

The huge oak canopy over the Bishop's Throne was carved in 1312. The 1350 minstrels' gallery is decorated with 12 angels playing musical instruments. Cathedral staff will point out the famous sculpture of the lady with two left feet and the tiny St James Chapel, built to repair the one destroyed in the Blitz. Look out for the chapel's unusual carvings: a cat, a mouse and, oddly, a rugby player.

There are free informative guided tours of the cathedral every day included in the admission price, or you can DIY with one of the free audio guides. But for the most dramatic perspective you really need to head up into one of the towers and drink in the views. Roof tours run on Tuesdays and Saturdays (you can book in advance online). There's a minimum age of eight.

Choral evensong services are held at 5.30pm from Monday to Friday, and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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