The rise of suburban Exeter and the naming of its streets and houses, c1801-1907



This is a study of the rise of the suburbs of Exeter, the county town of Devon, between the years 1801-1907. The dates chosen coincide with the publication of the first detailed Census Return (1801) and the completion of the first Local Authority housing (1907). Fieldwork and an analysis of local archives have revealed the manner in which the suburbs developed and their role in contributing to a city which was undergoing a change in its economic base. Each suburb developed at a different pace and with its own characteristics. An investigation into the pattern of development is supported by a study of the naming of streets and houses in the new suburbs which sheds light on the aspirations and attitudes prevalent at the time. By the beginning of the nineteenth century Exeter had lost its once-flourishing woollen industry, and trading through its port had diminished. It was a small, compact city --- a provincial market centre without a thriving industrial base. An analysis of local authority committee minutes, parish records, newspapers and other relevant documents has revealed the gradual expansion of the suburbs. The magnificent crescents and terraces of the early years attracted prosperous middle-class residents who, in turn, generated a need for professional services from lawyers, bankers and doctors, thus contributing towards Exeter's economic recovery. It will be seen that by the end of the nineteenth century the city was showing signs of revitalization. It was ringed by suburban development of various kinds --- from terraces which contain some of the country's finest architecture to rows of small, flat-fronted dwellings for the working class. A study of the rise of the suburbs of Exeter is a valuable guide to and reflection of the city's metamorphosis.






Miles, Joyce C., “The rise of suburban Exeter and the naming of its streets and houses, c1801-1907,” Centre for Regional and Local History Theses and Papers, accessed May 20, 2024,