The Custom House was built in 1680 at the height of Exeter's woollen cloth industry. Today it is a fascinating visitor centre and the meeting point for Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours.
Exeter has had a quay since Roman times. During the 13th and 14th centuries, rival merchants built weirs across the river near Topsham to prevent cargoes reaching Exeter. Between 1564 and 1566 John Trew built the first stretch of the Exeter Canal to enable delivery of cargo closer to the city. The increase in trade led to the construction of the Custom House in 1680. Renowned for its sweeping staircase and ornate plaster ceilings, this beautiful building now houses a fascinating visitor centre.
Today the history and development of Exeter's Quayside is brought to life with lively displays, illustrations and artefacts. There is also the opportunity to see "Exeter - 2,000 years of history," an exciting audio-visual presentation highlighting Exeter's history from Roman times to the present day.
The Custom House Visitor Centre provides tourist information, quayside treasure hunts, an accommodation booking service and a gift shop selling local pottery, replica maps and a wide range of local interest books. Quayside based Red Coat Guided Tours also depart from outside the Centre.
We are currently limiting numbers to 15 people at any one time. Please observe our clearly displayed Covid-safe guidance while visiting us.
April - October
Daily: 11.00am to 4.00pm
November - March
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 11.00am to 4.00pm
Group visits welcomed by prior arrangement.
You can find out more about Exeter's Historic Quayside in our information leaflet.
The Custom House Visitor Centre is supported by Exeter Canal & Quay Trust.