Barnfield Crescent, a Georgian crescent garden, is a charming oasis of peace and calm in the very heart of Exeter’s central business district. Despite the damage to the city centre in 1942 the Crescent survived in tack and today provides a charming setting with its mature trees overlooked by lovely red-brick Georgian housing which exudes an atmosphere of easy contentment that is unrivalled anywhere else in the city or anywhere else in Devon or Cornwall. In the summer, the red-brick townhouses, with their white window frames and fanlights look stunning when seen against a deep blue sky, framed by towering evergreen English oaks. Walking along the Crescent on a quiet Sunday afternoon really is like stepping back into another world.

Barnfield Crescent was, like Southernhay West and Dix’s Field, a development by Matthew Nosworthy. It was planned in 1792 but in 1805 only five houses, Nos 2-6, were built. It’s said that the original plan was for a ‘circus’ but sadly neither that nor indeed was the Crescent itself ever fully completed.

Southernhay Lodge and No 1 were added in a similar style in c.1840 by Dr Thomas Shapter, but it is of three storeys, not four like the rest of the crescent.

Much later the early twentieth century a rather splendid ‘Arts & Crafts’ house Morwenstow was built (apparently by Rev, Sabine Baring-Gould the Anglican priest, hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar best known for penning the Hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’). The large house looks rather incongruous and attracted the condemnation of one John Betjeman who rather unkindly dubbed it a ‘Monstrous Villa’.

Originally built as town houses slowly the uses changed and at one point certainly true still in the late 1950’s Surgeon and other medical practitioners had their ‘rooms’ here. Roll on and by the 60’s & 70’s the Crescent was pretty much the preserve of Solicitors & Accountants

Barnfield Crescent Today

Anyway enough of the history, today Barnfield Crescent houses a lively sociable business community covering all sectors from commercial property to IT, art galleries to graphic design. Training, translation services, therapists although we do still have a few accountants all the lawyers have gone to modern glass & steel buildings but still come here for our freshly brewed alfresco coffee. So these days we are an informal collection of often like-minded souls who enjoy, especially in the more clement weather a chat by the bike cafe, a pic-nick lunch on the grass not to mention a growing number of events using the unique setting of grass trees and parking set against a fine Georgian backdrop. At week end we allow charities to run the car parking to help raise funds

With a mix of my ‘owner’s hat’ and as a managing agent I enjoy helping to run our informal community where we hope to combine the old world charm of the location with our gateman in his hut as opposed to a barrier with automatic number plate recognition. A successful fusion we hope of modern co-work space with a very traditional feel and a fair bit of heritage!

Mark Turner

Upcoming Events at Barnfield Crescent