The University of Exeter: Exe-Estate

After the exhausting trek up cardiac hill from Birks Grange Village, you have two options: continue walking straight through Reed Mews, home of the Wellbeing Centre enclosed with beautiful brick walls covered in bright green ivy, or to turn right. Turn right.Left or Right - photoshopped

Reed Mews - photoshoppedStraight (Reed Mews)

Walk to Reed Hall - photoshoppedRight

You will walk along a seemingly normal path, with trees on one side that turn into a tall hedge.

Hedge - photoshopped

After a walk through the greenery, you will emerge from the hedge to look upon: Reed Hall.

Reed Hall - photoshopped

A magical mansion that students (or at least I) only dream of entering (whether because I simply feel unworthy because of its grandeur or am intimidated by the keypad next to the door is unclear). Then you walk past the home, see the courtyard, and you feel the sudden need for the Georgian attire of an Austen novel. To the right are patches of grass, trees, and stone stairs leading to many levels of the courtyard. As you continue around Reed Hall, you are met with flowering bushes (in the spring) and more trees. A common place to hold weddings, dances, and business meetings, Reed Hall is the centerpiece of the estate that was here before it became the home of the University of Exeter.

 Reed Hall (4) - photoshopped

Reed Hall and steps - photoshopped

The University of Exeter is known for its beautiful campus that consists of old buildings and preserved gardens. Boasted as “one of the most beautiful settings of any university in England,” the campus is an official botanic garden that was once a privately-owned estate.

It was owned by an East India merchant by the name of Richard Thornton West. He laid out the estate in the 1860s, with much of the Victorian planting done by John Veitch, a gardener discovered by Sir Thomas Acland who helped shape gardening in Devon and all of England. Reed Hall, previously called Streatham Hall, was built in 1867 and served as the center of this estate.

When the estate was no longer owned by the Thornton West family, it was available for purchase, and the 1903 advertisements described the estate as follows:




“The mansion is surrounded by most beautiful pleasure grounds arranged in terraces and including an exquisite Italian garden, with lake and superb conservatory and palm house. There are extensive fruit and vegetable gardens and complete range of glass . . . The Builder and Gardener have manifestly worked hand-in-hand and, under the mellowing effects of time, nature has perfected in her generous way the original design.”

Reed Pond - photoshoppedReed Hall Statue - photoshopped

The estate was eventually bought by Alderman W.H. Reed, a former mayor of Exeter, who gave the house and grounds of Streatham Hall to the university in 1922, and the university made its home in what is now Streatham campus. Streatham Hall was renamed Reed Hall, in honor of Alderman W.H. Reed.

Reed Hall is the center of the beauty of the University of Exeter’s campus. With its view of Exeter's green Devon hills and tease of a classic English estate, Reed Hall serves as the starting point for the other gardens and ponds that can be found while walking around campus. The sweeping stone staircases and colorful plant life make the walk up cardiac hill totally worth it.


To explore more of the beauty of the university’s campus, visit the university’s page for the Grounds and Gardens or Streatham Campus.

To learn about the sculpture walk that allows you to admire the many sculptures around campus, visit here.

Reed Hall and flowers - photoshopped

Text © Stephanie Fongheiser

Photos © Stephanie Fongheiser


Works Cited

“An Exeter meeting venue with a colourful past.” Reed Hall. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb 2016.

“The Grounds and Gardens of the University of Exeter 1969.” Corporate Services, University of Exeter, n.d. Web. 12 Feb 2016.

“Reed Hall, (also known as Streatham Hall), Exeter, England.” Parks & Gardens UK. Parks and Gardens Data Services Ltd., 2016. Web. 12 Feb 2016.

“University of Exeter, Exeter, England.” Parks & Gardens UK. Parks and Gardens Data Services Ltd., 2016. Web. 12 Feb 2016.

“Veitch Family History.” The Plantsman’s Garden Centre. St Bridget Nurseries, 2015. Web. 12 Feb 2016.


University of Exeter, Streatham Campus