Keystones and Carvings project on medieval interior sculpture: photographs of Exeter Cathedral

Scope and Content

This collection consists of photographs of architectural detail in Exeter Cathedral. Bosses are the main focus of the collection, but vaulting shaft capitals and other features are also included. The photographs are black and white, and have been arranged according to where they were taken in the cathedral. They appear to have been taken during the 1990s.

Administrative / Biographical History

The project Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings was begun in 1976 by Professor Avril Henry, medievalist of the University of Exeter. She initiated the professional restoration by Anna Hulbert of the artwork of Exeter Cathedral. On completion of the restoration work, over 1100 images and a catalogue had been created of the Cathedral's paintings and sculptures. This catalogue was published in digital format with the help of the Visual Arts Data Service in 2001, providing an illustrated introduction to and catalogue of the figurative sculpture that is part of the original interior fabric of the medieval Exeter Cathedral.

Exeter Cathedral is built on the camp of the Roman Army's II Augustan Legion. The history of the church as a cathedral dates from 1050 when the Bishop of Crediton and St Germans moved to Exeter. The first Bishop of Exeter, Leofric, was installed by King Edward the Confessor. The Saxon minster was built into a new cathedral in the Norman Style from 1114. Used for congregational and presbyterian workshop during the Interregnum period, the cloisters were destroyed in 1655. Rebuilding of the cloister was begun in 1880 but not completed for many years. The Cathedral sustained damaged on 3 May 1942 during the Blitz, when the chapel of St James and St Thomas the Martyr was destroyed along with two bays in the south quire.

Avril Kay Henry, ATD, NDD, BA, DPhil (Oxon) trained in painting and sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art, obtained ATD with Distinction at the University of London Institute of Education, and worked initially as an art teacher and freelance illustrator. She then attended At. Hugh's College, Oxford and was awarded a Fulford Senior Scholarship. She held various posts at Oxford, Cambridge, Queen Mary College (University of London) before being appointed as a lecturer at the University of Exeter in 1970, where she later became Professor of Medieval Culture at the School of English. She held a Personal Chair in the School from 1995-2000. Her research is mainly manuscript-based, with special interests in medieval Christian iconography and the interface of text and image.

Anna Carson Hulbert took a BA in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and then trained there as a conservator. She ran her own conservation business for 21 years, and worked on major projects at Exeter Cathedral and St. Helen's Church, Abingdon. She died in 2000.


The collection was originally housed in four lever-arch folders in sections according to where the photographs were taken in the cathedral. The photographs have been re-boxed archivally, and the original order has been retained throughout.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Biographical information was taken from the website of the Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings Project. Information on the project was taken from the website of AHDS Visual Arts, and information on the cathedral from the website of Exeter Cathedral.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue of the Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings project (maintained by AHDS Visual Arts (previously the Visual Arts Data Service)) is available at:

Alternative Form Available

Digital images of the photographs in this collection are available via the online catalogue of the Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings project (maintained by AHDS Visual Arts (previously the Visual Arts Data Service)):

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 12 April 2005, and encoded into EAD 2 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions apply. Please contact the Archivist for further details.

Custodial History

The Photographic Unit at the University of Exeter provided assistance in producing many of the images featured in the project. It is probable that this set of photographs was intended to be used as a reference set at the University Library. Transferred to Special Collections from the Reserve Collection.

Related Material

Other photograph collections relating to the architecture of Exeter Cathedral are held at the following repositories: Exeter Cathedral Archive, National Monuments Record and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Location of Originals

It is understood that originals of some of these photographs contained within the collection are held at the following repositories: National Monument Record (C.J.P. Cave Photographs), Exeter Cathedral Archive, Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit, and Conway Library (Courtauld Institute, London). Some photographs are also in the private possession of Anna Hulbert and the heirs of Avril Henry.


Many of these images have been published on the website of the project 'Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings: a Catalogue Raisonne of the Medieval Interior Sculpture and Its Polychromy', Avril K. Henry and Anna C. Hulbert. The website is available at:

Corporate Names

Geographical Names