Strange but true story of Exeter house’s survival

A eye-catching Tudor building in Exeter has one of the most bizarre stories of survival in architectural history.

From the Cathedral to hidden gems such as Gandy Street – the city has an abundance of qualities to attract the attention of tourists. And of the city’s well known landmarks is The House That Moved.

After hard work and determination, The House That Moved was quite literally put on rails and moved 220 feet, where it still remains today, home to a bridal shop.

It still stands as one of the greatest feats of engineering of its kind.

The House That Moved moves!
(Image: BBC Archive)

Many local residents in Exeter know the back story already. But it’s a story that deserves to be remembered.

The House That Moved began life in the 1420s at No 16 Edmund Street, where it was also known as the Merchant House.

The House That Moved in Exeter
The House That Moved in Exeter

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.

Thankfully, the destruction of a piece of the city’s history was prevented by having the 10-tonne building – secured with another 11 tonnes of strengthening timbers – moved with a combination of steel rails and winches in December 1961.

The House That Moved
Found at the bottom of West Street, the House That Moved is one of Exeter’s best-known landmarks

At a cost of £10,000, it was raised and dragged 220 feet over three days to its new location at the bottom of West Street in front of a posse of reporters and curious onlookers.

A grainy film reel shows the move being undertaken by men in flat claps with cigarettes clamped in their mouths.

Watch the jaw-dropping footage below:

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Not a hard hat or high-vis jacket in sight.

Although many years have passed since the building was first erected, it still stands and is home to bridal shop Pirouette.

The House That Moved
In the past it has been a bookshop, computer store and even a nail bar, but now it is a bridal shop

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After visiting the bridal shop last year, Devon Live reported that, although the building is a little wonky and creaky, it is pretty cosy.

owner of bridal shop Pirouette, Marian Couch confirmed: “We have had people from Paris come in to see it, we have people who come from the Channel Islands – we’ve even had people drive from the other end of the country just for the day to see it.”

Devon Live