BEER QUARRY
CAVES
EAST DEVON

Part of England's only
Natural World Heritage Site

Conducted tours by trained guides,give the visitor an hour-long tour of this vast man- made
complex of underground caverns created by centuries of quarrying the famous Beer Stone.
The underground quarry first worked by the Romans,supplied stone for 24 cathedrals
including Exeter and St.Pauls, parts of Westminster Abbey,the Tower of London, Hampton Court and
Windsor Castle. Quarried by hand, the smallest blocks weighing 4 tons, the stone was carted
on horse-drawn wagons and by barges from Beer beach to its destination, sometimes involving
journeys of several hundreds of miles.
Beer stone was much prized by the masons, as freshly quarried it is ideal for fine detail carvings
but hardens on exposure to the air, turning a beautiful creamy white colour.
Although seen today by the thousands of people who visit thesefamous buildings, sadly few stop to
wonder where the stone came from, or give even a passing thought to the generations of local
families who worked here under appalling conditions by the light of tallow candles.

The entrance leads directly into the Roman section, which now houses a small museum
containing pieces of Beer stone carved centuries ago by skilled masons, the tools used by
the Quarrymen, copies of ancient documents and photographs. From this very chamber the
Romans quarried the first blocks of Beer Stone to build their villas, leaving typical Roman arches
and even their tool-marks are still visible on the walls. On through the Saxon part of the workings
to where the Normans quarried stone for cathedrals, castles and Manor houses.
The sheer grandeur of the mighty halls, vaulted roofs and massive supporting pillars of natural
stone are awe- inspiring and have often been likened to a vast underground cathedral.
A refuge and place of worship for Catholics during times of persecution, hiding place for
contraband in the days when Beer was home to the infamous smuggler Jack Rattenbury,
legend and human interest stories abound. The quarry was worked from Roman times until the
beginning of the 20th. century and the entire complex is a vast memorial to those from the village
some as young as eight years old who worked here over the centuries providing the stone we see
today in some of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in England.
See for yourself the methods used to quarry and deliver the huge blocks of stone, the working
conditions, the hardships endured and the dangers faced daily by thee work-force and you may
never again see a famous building with the same eyes.

Exeter Cathedral, the jewel in the
crown of our architectural heritage,
and the underground workings
which supplied stone used in its
construction since the early12th.
century
2000 years of history brought vividly to life a visit to Beer Quarry Caves
is an exciting and fascinating experience not to be missed.
Open daily from Monday 14th.April to end of October.
The workings are cool and even on a warm day a jumper is advisable.
Light refreshments and souvenirs. Ample free parking. Level walking below
ground.
Regrettably, steep approach path to entrance impractical for wheelchairs.
Open daily to end September 10.00AM last tour 5.00PM.
October daily 11.00 AM. last tour 4.00PM

Superb example of the stone mason's skill, this medieval church window came from St.
Andrews' church Colyton Devon. Originally carved from 58 pieces of Beer Stone in the
15th.century,still in perfect condition when removed during typical victorian restoration
and left in the churchyard until its return to the quarry where it was rebuilt by the
master- mason of Exeter cathedral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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