This film is part of Free

The House that Moved

A medieval move that hits newsdesks around the world as a timber house finds a new settlement to satisfy the town planners.

News 1961 3 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Construction workers from A. J. Beal Business prepare to move an example of a 15th century Tudor house, one of the oldest surviving examples in Devon. For centuries the Merchant House stood on the corner of Frog Street and Edmund Street but proposals for a new road system in the 1950s led to a local campaign to save the timber-framed property. The Council donated £10,000 to the scheme. The House took six days to move 220 feet or 67 metres and was a major news story around the world.

Frog Street was completely demolished to make way for the Exeter bypass and the house took its newer name from that week of monumental removal. Interiors, windows and doors were removed and the house was studded together before being placed on metal tramlines. Timber housebuilding became popular from 13th century onwards in London and the country followed suit with oak, elm, beech and willow all used as materials and largely homegrown. In Georgian times timber housebuilding fell out of fashion and many were plastered over. In the twentieth century, Exeter underwent slum clearance, Second World War destruction, postwar reconstruction and 1960s redevelopment including university expansion.