Underground Passages

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1. Visitor information

Walking through the underground passages

Introduction

These medieval passages have always fascinated local people, with stories of wars and sieges, plague and pestilence. They were designed to bring clean drinking water from natural springs outside the walled city, through lead pipes into the heart of the city. The pipes sometimes leaked and repairs to buried pipes could only be carried out by digging them up as we do today. To avoid this disruption the passages were vaulted and it is down some of these vaulted passageways that visitors are guided.

Exeter is the only city in the UK to have underground passages of this type and guided tours have taken place here since the 1930s. Today the passages are lit throughout, but still fascinate for all who enter.

Before taking a guided tour underground, visitors pass through an exciting interpretation centre packed full of interactive displays, including a talking figure of a medieval man, a high-speed video fly-through of the Passages, a full size model of a section of the Passages and artefacts from the Princesshay archaeological dig. A visit to Exeter’s Underground Passages includes a 10 minute film presentation, a 25 minute tour underground and an opportunity to explore the exhibition.

 

About the tours

First tour generally starts half an hour after opening and at regular intervals throughout the day.

  • Please arrive at least 10 minutes before your tour is due to start.

  • Under 5s are not permitted on tours of Exeter’s Underground Passages, but free access to the exhibition is permitted with an accompanying adult.

  • Wheelchair and pushchair access is restricted to the exhibition only.

  • Visitors should be aware that the Passages are constricted and low in places and are not suitable for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

  • Sensible footwear is recommended.

  • We are unable to take tours containing only one person.

  • During school holidays and at weekends we are very busy, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

  • Gifts and souvenirs are available.