Custom House, Exeter

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Exeter Custom House
Old Custom House Exeter-3 com.jpg
The former Custom House at Exeter Quay
Custom House, Exeter is located in Devon
Custom House, Exeter
Location in Devon
General information
TypeCustom House
LocationExeter Quay
Town or cityExeter
Coordinates50°43′08″N 3°31′54″W / 50.71886°N 3.53156°W / 50.71886; -3.53156

The Custom House is a former custom house at Exeter, Devon, England, operated by HM Customs to handle the trade of Exeter Quay. The building, which was built in the early 17th-century, has been Grade I listed since 1953.[1]

Believed to be the oldest brick building to survive in Exeter, Historic England recorded that the building's "Renaissance-inspired facade and magnificent plasterwork, advanced joinery detail, early use of brick and the centralised double-depth plan are of the first importance in illustrating the arrival of a national or court style to Devon."[1]


The Custom House was built in 1680-81 in response to the increasing trade seen at Exeter Quay, particularly of Exeter's woollen cloth industry. Though the quay had existed since Roman times, it was the construction of the Exeter Ship Canal in 1564-66 led to a considerable increase in trade.[2] The Custom House was built by Richard Allen for a cost of £3,000. It was the country's first purpose-built Custom House and was used by HM Customs until 1989.[3]

Following its closure, public access to the building was made available through the city's Red Coat Guided Tours.[4] In 2015, the former Custom House reopened as a visitor centre and tourist attraction. A joint project between the Exeter Canal and Quay Trust and Exeter City Council, the centre replaced the original one which had been located at the nearby Quay House.[5] It was officially opened on 21 May.[6]


  1. ^ a b "CUSTOM HOUSE, WHARFINGER'S HOUSE AND ATTACHED WAREHOUSE, Exeter - 1223038". Historic England. Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  2. ^ "Custom House Visitor Centre - Exeter City Council". Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  3. ^ David Cornforth (2016-08-17). "Custom House". Exeter Memories. Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  4. ^ "The Hidden Places of Devon - Joanna Billing - Google Books". Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  5. ^ 22 May 2015 at 5:39am (2015-05-22). "Exeter's Custom House reopens as a visitor centre | West Country - ITV News". Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  6. ^ "Exeter's Custom House reopens as visitor centre - the Devon Week". 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2017-10-22.