We are a thriving Independent Historic Library and Educational Charity, welcoming new members of all ages.
We are open as usual: Tuesdays to Fridays 10am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm.
Contact us:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Free Guided tours every Wednesday afternoon

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

Tours are free and suitable for all ages, that last approximately 20-30mins.

Meet outside the Institution at 7 Cathedral Close or use the buzzer if the doors are closed.


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 -4.00pm.  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, its 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 


“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 can be followed by tea/coffee and cake in our delightful Courtenay Room or rooms overlooking the Cathedral.  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 £5 per person or £10 per person with tea/coffee and cake, 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.