Underground passages


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1003851

Date first listed: 09-May-1935


Ordnance survey map of Underground passages
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Exeter (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SX 92208 92808, SX 92250 92781


Subterranean access tunnels and conduits forming part of the medieval water supply for the city of Exeter.

Reasons for Designation

The underground tunnels and passages which form part of the water supply for the Cathedral and city of Exeter date back to the 13th century and are exceptionally well preserved. They form part of a complex water supply network the survival of which is extremely rare, possibly only those connected with London are better known. Parts of the passage system are open to the public and benefit from detailed guided tours to explain the network and its history more fully. As a result this rare class of monument is also accessible for educational purposes. The water supply for any urban area is vital for its occupants and given the long and complex history of the city the preservation and continued accessibility to this important early infrastructure which played such a key role in its development cannot be over emphasised.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument which falls into two separate areas includes three lengths of stone lined tunnels forming part of an extensive medieval water supply for the Cathedral and city of Exeter. They survive as subterranean stone built arched tunnels which vary in form and have been subject to complex phases of alteration. The tunnels act as access passages and conduits. The earliest tunnel was an un-piped conduit leading from St Sidwell’s Well to the Cathedral precincts and was in existence from 1226. In the 14th century a new source in Treadwell Meadow was carried by lead pipes within the conduit. The system was enlarged in the 15th century with the addition of new tunnels and still used parts of the original 13th century water supply network. Excavations have proved the water supply did not have Roman origins.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: DV 182

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape Monument No:-448379

End of official listing