Countess Wear

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Countess Wear bridge dating from 1770

Countess Wear, alternatively called Countess Weir, is a residential district within the city of Exeter, in the English county of Devon. The name derives from the weir constructed in 1286 on the instruction of Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon.[1]

Countess Wear is best known today as the location of the Countess Wear bridges, a group of three bridges across the River Exe and the Exeter Canal. Although these bridges are now bypassed by the M5 motorway, they were formerly on the old A38 road, the main route from the rest of England to the popular holiday resorts of Devon and Cornwall. Congestion caused by the constricted width of the original bridges, and by opening of the canal bridges for shipping, led to Countess Wear becoming infamous for holiday delays.

Some historical structures remain in the district but the predominant housing stock is mid 20th century private or council built property. At the centre of the area is the Countess Wear roundabout, the crossroads for the Topsham Road, and the Exeter Ring Road or outer bypass.

There are three schools in the area:

  • Countess Wear Community School[2]
  • Southbrook School[3]
  • The West of England School for the Partially Sighted

There is one church in the area:

  • St Luke's Church (1837–38), Countess Wear Road.


Coordinates: 50°42′01″N 3°29′36″W / 50.70028°N 3.49333°W / 50.70028; -3.49333