Exeter’s cloth trade
Exeter was the centre for the woolen cloth trade in the South West and at its height, had at least three purpose-built cloth markets in the city. The first market was opened in 1538.
Fulling mills lined the water channels near the river with all open spaces filled by racks of drying cloth. With wealth and trade came a growing merchant class. Woollen cloth changed Exeter from a provincial to cosmopolitan city. Many fine merchant houses were built, some of which can still be seen in the city today.
John Baring (his youngest son went on set up Baring’s Bank) came to Exeter to pursue a career as a woollen cloth merchant in 1717.