Long famous for its ancient and historic buildings, Exeter has one house that stands out from all of the rest. As the story goes, the move that would be remembered generations later began on Saturday, December 9, 1961, when the house was raised a few centimeters. Over the next two days, on Sunday and Monday, the house was moved to the edge of Edmund Street before beginning its journeys up the hill.
On Tuesday, December 13, 1961, police closed Edmund Street to traffic and the house was scooted to the center of the street on massive iron rails. The rails and wheels were then turned 90 degrees to face up Edmund Street and the longest and hardest stretch of the move began. Air compressors drove the winches and the house was slowly pulled on the rail up the hill. At the same time, workers were adjusting corner jacks to keep the structure upright - if they didn’t, surely the house would have tumbled backwards down the hill.
The 14th-century Tudor building was moved all because archeologists couldn’t bear to part with it, but the city needed to run a road right through the property it originally stood on. This was a long and expensive move, as the house weighed more than 42,000 pounds or 21 tons. What made the move even more surprising - and maddening for those who had to reroute their traffic when Edmund Street was blocked off - was that the house was in a sorry state of disrepair. It was historic, though!, the archeologists claimed; they were able to push hard enough for the house to be saved.
Once the move was completed, the house was cemented down to look as though it has been standing in its current position for centuries. No longer occupied by a family or used as a house, the now-famous structure has served as an antique dealer, a gem dealer, and a wedding dress shop. Even though nobody lives inside of it, the house is still outfitted with a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom on the top floor.
Know Before You Go
The house is located near Western Way and Fore Street.
If coming from the city center, Stepcote Hill is steep and cobbled. The easiest access is from the ring road.