Human Rights and Religious Equality trail:

Human Rights and Religious Equality trail:
a reflective walk around Exeter City centre
Throughout the centuries in Exeter minority groups have often been the target of abuse, discrimination and hatred,
sometimes becoming the victims of violence and even death. People who think and live differently have not always been
welcome in our communities. Historically, people who were not part of the Church of England were treated as noncitizens, and this could mean that they were deprived of basic human rights. This trail will take you to some key places
where we will mark the lives and events of some of these brave people.
Common criminals: executed and exiled
The Guildhall was a medieval court where people were tried and often sentenced to harsh
and inhumane punishments. As recently as the early 1800s people were condemned to death
here for crimes as small as the theft of a cow or sheep and sentenced to transportation to
Australia (never to return)for stealing just one shilling.
The Jewish community: given freedom to worship
Exeter Synagogue was built in 1763. There was a Jewish community in Exeter as far back as
the 1100s, but in 1290 Jews were banished from Britain. It was not until 1656 that they were
allowed back and given freedom to worship. They began to return to Exeter in the 1700s.
Roman Catholics: allowed to participate in public life
The Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in South Street, was built on land given by the Cathedral in
1870. This ended a period of 3 centuries during which Catholics were excluded from public life
in Britain and subject to significant discrimination.
Dissenters: treated as outcasts
The Dissenters’ Graveyard, adjacent to Bull Meadow Road, is a sad reminder of how
minorities could be treated. Dissenters were people who refused to accept the beliefs of the
Church of England. They were barred from many professions and were not allowed to be
buried in Exeter’s Church graveyards.
Jewish community: separate burial ground
The Jewish cemetery, next to the dissenters’ graveyard, is also significant for being outside
the City walls. Jewish people played an important part in the life of Exeter, but for centuries
they were seen as outsiders.
Quakers and non-conformists: demanded a fairer society
The Quaker Meeting House. Quakers and other non-conformist sects were discriminated
against for centuries. They refused to accept the authority of the Church of England,
campaigning for the freedom of worship and demanding a fairer society.
Discrimination against women
A plaque on the ruined Gatehouse to Rougement Castle tells how, in 1685, four women were
hanged for witchcraft. They were found guilty of sorcery on the basis of accusations which
today we would regard as hearsay or gossip.
Women labelled as witches
The Mural near the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre is a graphic demonstration of the way some
women in Devon were seen as suspicious characters and punished for it. Were they really
sorcerers, or were they women who were falsely labelled as witches?
Human Rights and Religious Equality trail:
a reflective walk around Exeter City centre
Instructions for the Walking Route
The Guildhall, High Street
The walk starts at the Guildhall.
Next, walk to Exeter Synagogue. Turn right out of the Guildhall and walk along the High Street.
Go past the top of North street and continue past BHS. Turn right into Mary Arches Street and
then turn right into Synagogue Place at the top of Mary Arches car park. The Synagogue is in
front of you, on the right.
Exeter Synagogue, Synagogue Place
Now walk to the Catholic Church. Leave the Synagogue and walk back up Mary Arches Street.
Cross the High Street and walk down South Street. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church is on the
opposite side of South Street about half way down.
The Sacred Heart Catholic Church, South Street
Now walk to The Dissenters’ Graveyard. Continue down South Street to the big road junction,
turning left and continuing along Magdalen Street, with the car park on your right. Cross the
road at the pelican crossing outside Magdalen Chapter. Walk along to the graveyard.
Dissenters Graveyard, Magdalen Street
Now walk to the Jewish Burial Ground, just down the hill, below the red brick block of flats.
The Jewish Cemetery, Magdalen Road
Now walk to the Quaker Meeting House. Go back to the pelican crossing, outside Magdalen
Chapter. Cross the road and turn right. Turn left into the lane following signs to the Quaker
meeting House.
The Quaker Meeting House, off Magdalen Street
Now walk to the ruined gatehouse at Rougemont Castle. Walk back along Magdalen Street,
turning right up through Southernhay. Turn left into Bedford Street, passing Debenhams on
the right. Turn right into High Street, cross the road and turn left up Castle Street. The ruined
tower is further up on the left, at the entrance to Rougemont gardens.
Ruined Gatehouse to Rougement Castle, Castle Street
Now walk to the mural, near Exeter Pheonix Arts Centre. Walk around Rougemont Gardens,
with Rougemont House and Exeter Library on your left. Turn left down an alley just past the
end of the Library building. The large Mural is directly ahead of you on a wall.
The Mural near the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre
Now return to the Guildhall, walking down Musgrave Row and turning left onto Queen Street.
Turn right at the top, at Marks and Spencers, and walk down High Street, with the Guildhall on
your right.