Exeter, a city, seaport, parliamentary (one member) and municipal borough, capital of Devon, on the left bank of the Exe, about 10 miles N. of the english channel, and on the Great Western Railway.It is built on the top and sides of a hill sloping down towards the river, which is crossed by a stone bridge at the western entrance of the town, which consists of two main streets at right angles with others branching out from them. Much of the town is very ancient, but there are modern terraces and villas, which are daily increasing as the educational advantages of the town which make it desirable as a residence. The cathedral is cruciform, and 408 feet long, with two Norman towers 130 feet high. The choir is 128 feet long, and there are ten chapels, and a chapter house. There is much Norman work in the different churches of the city; and parts of the old Saxon walls remain, and the ruins of the castle at Rougemont. The free grammar school has 16 exhibitions to Oxford or Cambridge, and there are libraries, museums, and a diocesan training college, a hospital etc. Formerly Exeter was a seat of the woollen trade, but this industry is now extinct. There are iron foundries, agricultural implement works, paper-mills, corn-mills and tanneries, and some manufactures of gloves and lace. There is a basin to which ships of 400 tons have access by means of a canal 5 miles long. The town was an old British station before being the Isca Damnoniorum of the Roman times. Many coins, statues and fragments of pavement have been discovered. The Saxons called it Monktown for its many ecclesiastical establishments.From Cassell's Encyclopedia; a Storehouse of General Information (undated, but apparently early 1900s)
Exeter contains several ancient parishes and was a Poor Law Union and registration district as well as the seat of the diocese of Exeter. There is a great deal of useful information about Devon genealogy in general on the Genuki site where Exeter has its own page. The Devon Record Office in Exeter holds records for Exeter.
There is more information about Exeter on Vision of Britain, and historic photographs on the English Heritage Archives site. Google Books has The History of Exeter by the Rev George Oliver, published in 1821