The story behind the 14th century house in Exeter that 'moved' in 1961

The house that once belonged to a wealthy merchant is now a bridal shop. Credit: Google

A house in Exeter built in the fourteenth century and moved down the street more than five hundred years later, is still very much a part of Devon's modern landscape.

The house, thought to have been built by a wealthy merchant around 1420 has survived throughout the ages - and two World Wars - and still proudly sits in Exeter City Centre.

The House That Moved began at No 16 Edmund Street, where it became known as the Merchant House.

Fast forward 530-odd years to the early 1960s and the building was pencilled in for demolition to make space for the city bypass coming off Exe Bridges roundabout as part of the city's post-war reparations.

After a vigorous fight with the council, campaigners were successful in saving the building, and in a move dubbed a 'modern fleet of engineering' were able to move the structure - 220 feet down the road.

By securing the 10-tonne building with 11 tonnes of strengthening timbers and a combination of steel rails and winches the house was miraculously moved in December 1961.

  • Watch archive footage showing how the house was moved in 1961

There are at least a few dozen medieval buildings in Exeter - but according to local historians, the property is an important symbol of survival.

Dr Todd Gray, a professor at the University of Exeter said: "The house is a survivor. The house is important not because of its value but because it's been around forever.

"But what many don't know is that a building just like the house was demolished to be put where it is now.

"So essentially they moved a late medieval house that was of equal value, to make room for this one!"

Now in 2023, the property located on West Street at the bottom of St Mary Steps, is home to a bridal store, with its history often overlooked.