We look forward to welcoming you back soon. The Institution is in the Step 3 reopening plan (implemented no earlier than May 18th).
Keep in touch with us on social media, contact us by email or join us as a member to receive our newsletter, remote services and resources.
Contact us:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Guided tours – resuming Wednesday 19th May

Discover this heritage haven and living library in the heart of the city

Subject to phase 3 reopening on 18th May, we will resume live tours on Weds 19th May, from 1pm-3pm, tours every half hour.  Tours are free and suitable for all ages.

Those wishing to take a tour may sign up on the day.

Due to government guidelines we will need to take contact details for each individual participating.

Meet outside the Institution at 7 Cathedral Close.

The group size will be restricted to five people per guide and we will maintain social distancing throughout the tour.

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If you prefer to access our building from home, please try one of our virtual tours:

  • Take a tour of the Institution cottage which has been residence of Librarians and Housekeepers for over 200 years…to take the tour click here.
  • Step back to 2016 and take a virtual tour of our roof restoration in progress…to take the tour click here.

When normal service resumes:

Free Wednesday Afternoon Tours

The Institution occupies historic premises at the heart of Exeter in Cathedral Close.  Adapted from what was once the townhouse of the Courtenay family, the library is housed in two elegant Georgian rooms which provide space for research and reading, educational activities, cultural events and lectures.

Every Wednesday afternoon we open our doors to the public for free guided tours between 1.00pm – 3.00pm.  There’s no need to book, tours normally last around 20 mins, but can be individually tailored to you and your interests.

Our tour guides are a dedicated team of trained volunteers, drawn from our membership.  They are passionate about sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for the building, it’s history, our collections and the Institution itself.

We are delighted to include a display of items from our historic collection of local newspapers, maps of the region, books and illustrations.

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Testimonials

“Amazing, fascinating, very entertaining and knowledgeable guide. Thank you!”

“So important that Institutions such as this survive, grow and continue to influence education and society.”

“A lovely find.  Thank you for taking the time to show us around.”

“I received a very welcome admission and was delighted to experience an interesting tour.  I will certainly be interested in membership.”

Group Tours

We are happy to arrange tours for groups at other times, group tours would normally last approx 30 mins and are followed by tea/coffee and cake in our delightful Courtenay Room.  If your group has a particular interest our Library Team will be happy to curate a suitable display, so please do complete this information on the form below.

Group tours must be arranged in advance and we charge £8 per person, with numbers limited to 15 per tour.

Educational groups should look at our Schools and Outreach Programme page for more information.

To arrange a group tour booking, please complete the booking form below or  if you should have any queries please contact us on 01392 274727 or email [email protected]

Guided tour - Group bookings

Venue Hire form and conditions for booking venue hire.
  • Please give your preferred times. Tours are approx 30 mins.
  • Max 15 per tour
  • Please include any specific areas of interest for your group, to enable us to curate a display for you to enjoy.