It will have been apparent to the reader of the foregoing pages that the account they give of the Cathedral was in some measure derived from a study of the building during its restoration. But for this opportunity of minute structural investigation, it would not have been possible to establish, with anything approaching to certainty, the age to which almost every portion and accessory of the Cathedral may now be safely assigned. And it may be said to have been largely owing to the want of just such evidences as presented themselves to observant eyes during the restoration process that previous historians of our Cathedral have been widely misled by the evidence that was before them. Of that restoration, which has thus added so largely to our knowledge of the Cathedral's history, besides what it has done to bring back much of the grace and fashion which the genius of its builders gave it, some slight sketch is here appended; not, indeed, with the 'touch' of the historian's 'vanished hand' but at least with a desire to add a useful pendant to his work by giving such an account of the recent restoration as should show that the Cathedral in its restored condition presents a not unfaithful reflection, in a modern light, of its original state.

In its need for restoration Exeter Cathedral stood twenty years ago, on the same footing as the majority of the Churches, great and small, of our land: while in respect of its capability of regaining much of its lost beauty it may be said to have presented a singularly favourable subject. For of the Cathedral Church that has been traced as rising in its Norman strength, and taking its larger plan at Bishop Marshall's hands, and putting on its Decorated vestures and Tudor veils, the fabric at large remained substantially intact. It is true that the glories of Stapledon's splendid equipment of the Choir were departed. The stained glass was almost entirely obliterated throughout. Neither gilding of bosses nor tinting of ribs enriched the roof. One general uniformity of buff shrouded the entire interior. Yet amid all losses and beneath all encasements the stately creation of the founders lived still, unimpaired by permanent disfigurements, and unencumbered by serious encroachments. Much had been lost, but far more remained behind to guide restoring hands and supply the motif for harmonious developments.

In order that the restoration may be understood, the story must first be briefly told of the chief decays and transformations that had taken place in the course of the three hundred and fifty years that elapsed between Bishop Oldham's finishing touches and the day when our recent restorers took it in hand. The condition of the building as they found it was the result partly of deliberate destruction, partly of natural decay, and ill-considered repair, and partly of the introduction of unworthy and incongruous fittings. We know that the spirit of destructiveness was abroad during Elizabeth's reign, at which time Bishop Grandisson's monument in the chapel of St. Radegunde was desecrated, (Oliver p. 181) and her "Visitors" defaced the Altars (Hewett p. 13).

Early in the seventeenth century, and before the Puritan inroad, there had already disappeared from the Nave two features which must have well exhibited in this portion of the church the balance of parts alluded to above as a leading characteristic of the entire Cathedral. These were Chapels standing on either side beneath the sixth bays (eastward) of the arcade: that on the North side reputed as St. Anne's, where Bishop Brantyngham, to whom chiefly we owe the West Front, was buried: and that on the South, said to have been dedicated to St. Agatha, - 'a sumptuous curious little chapel,' (Westcote) - where Courtenays were commemorated {Oliver p. 215).

The magnificent accessories of the Choir which Grandisson had so boldly described as surpassing in its splendour all similar shrines of England and France, must have presented an exceptionally rich field to the Puritan axes and hammers, before which much seems to have gone down at this time. Stapledon's Reredos is believed to have been defaced in Edward Vlth's reign, but the statues upheld among the shafts of the matchless sedilia are known to have fallen to the Puritans. Those of the Bishop's Throne can hardly have failed to share their fate. The stained glass was extensively destroyed. Frescoed surfaces and richly carved stalls would ill accord with the worship which prevailed when the Presbyterians assembled in the Choir separated by a vast whitewashed wall from the Independents who congregated in the Nave. The pillars of the Choir were ruthlessly hacked for the erection of galleries, mutilations and defacements were general and the cloisters were pulled down. (Oliver p. 247.)

It will therefore be apparent that the restoration of the Cathedral had much ground to recover (some of it beyond recovery) if only to make good the devastations of these and earlier times. And seeing what a wealth of statuary the Cathedral possessed it is matter for rejoicing that the West Front and the Minstrels' Gallery should have ridden out the storm. Scarcely less effective, if less obtrusive, damage had been wrought by minor decays which in the lapse of time had accumulated about almost every portion of the building, to an extent that involved no small expenditure for their repair.

On the other hand, it would be wide of the truth to suppose that nothing had been done with a view to preserving and beautifying the Cathedral during these later Centuries. Since the Commonwealth, large sums have been expended from time to time in adapting it, with however little taste, to the needs and notions of the day. At about the year 1660, Dean (afterwards Bishop) Ward munificently devoted no less than œ25,000, representing a very much larger sum according to present value, to extensive restorations and improvements. We hear of an elaborate "cleansing" in 1789. John Loosemoore's Organ of 1665, which was a noble enrichment for its time and has been many times added to since its erection, survives still as the foundation of the present instrument. The Bells are without exception recastings of various dates varying from 1616 to 1729. The walls of the Nave were at some time adorned in places with Heraldic emblazonments. A new Font was introduced in the year 1644 for the Baptism of the infant Princess Henrietta. Stained glass was placed in the west window in 1766. Early in the present century the Lady Chapel was restored to its use as Morning Chapel, having been for many years used as Library. And at about the same time a new Reredos was erected to replace one in praise of which a historian has written thus: - "The Altar-piece is a very elegant and grand Performance in Painting; it perspectively represents the Front of, and three arched Entrances into, as 'twere, another Cathedral Church, the Gateways appearing as perfect Cavities, with Roofs and Sides curiously moulded. The Portraits of Moses and Aaron, supporting the two Tables of the Decalogue, seem as if really standing forward in full Relief, the first cloath'd in golden Raiment, the other with a Mitre on his Head, and array'd in other Pontificalibus, etc. The Drapery of both really admirable." (History of Exeter, compiled from Hooker, etc., 1765).