With the flowering of Christianity in England in the 7th Century through the work of Augustine and Theodore in the South-East and Aidan and Cuthbert in the South-West. However, it was St Boniface, educated in a monastery on the site of the present cathedral who became the most celebrated son of Devonshire by his work as a missionary in Central Germany. Most other Cathedrals had to await the coming of the Normans but Bishop Leofric had sought permission from the Pope to move his see and as it was granted and Edward the Confessor transferred the See from Crediton to the current important commercial centre that was protected within a walled city, Exeter. The main reason for moving his See to Exeter was that at Crediton, without a wall for protection it was continually raided by Vikings. So, his See was not in a huge Cathedral, but a Saxon Church.
The Normans however left their mark with William Warelwart, the nephew of William the Conqueror becoming Bishop of Exeter. It was he who built the Romanesque cathedral commenced in 1112 and completed in as we know it in 1153. It was changed from the Norman style to the English Gothic style in the 13th Century. Exeter suffered considerably from the ravages of both the Reformation and the Puritan Revolution, images were removed and defaced and other artefacts in the Cathedral were despoiled but many were able to be restored.
After the restoration of the monarchy, much was done to restore the cathedral's beauty. Charles I's daughter was born in Exeter. When the King and his Queen were travelling through Exeter to Dartmoor and then to the coast where they were to escape to France, the Queen came into labour and the baby was born but left behind as the Queen made her way to France. The girl was left in Exeter for 3 years until her brother Charles II assumed the throne and they were then reunited.
On 4 May 1942, there was a huge German raid on Exeter and the Cathedral was damaged with the windows blown out and the St James Chapel destroyed. There could have been much more damage but for the heroic defence by the Polish 307 Squadron who was defending Exeter. At one stage the Cathedral was using tallow as a lubricant for the working parts of the ancient clock. Using the tallow brought rats to the Cathedral. However, a cat was brought into the Cathedral to quell the infestation of the rats. That was successful as the cat had his own entrance in the door leading to the clock working parts, therefore the cat can go where he wants within the Cathedral to do his job. Successful he was and up to this day there have been no rats in the Cathedral.
Exeter Cathedral is now in a splendid state of conservation and it stands as a church of particular and unusual beauty within the South-West, reflecting some of the independence of local traditions in this most beautiful part of England.