Next time you’re wandering the historic streets of Exeter think about this – you’re probably walking above a network of underground passages that were once crucial to the city’s residents. The underground passages may not sound like your usual family attraction but they’re great fun and you’ll learn even more about Exeter’s history that a day above ground – and you get to wear a hard hat.
The medieval network of passages flummoxed Exeter’s residents for centuries as they came up with all kinds of theories about why they were built, but in the end the answer was a simple one – they supplied water to the city. Lead pipes were placed in the tunnels and used to pump spring water from the area’s fields into the walled city. Just like today, when the pipes occasionally leaked they had to be dug up to be repaired, so eventually a series of vaults were created to enable workers to walk along beside them.
Visitors to this unique attraction are shown a short film explaining the history of the passages, before being handed hard hats and guided through the tunnels beneath the city. You’ll be underground for around 25 minutes and children are welcome, but we wouldn’t recommend this tour for anyone who gets claustrophobic due to the narrow tunnels.