As you head out of Exeter on Honiton Road, you pass Ringswell Avenue on the left and Ringswell Park on the right. The name is one indicator of what happened here between the 16th and 18th centuries. The bus shelter round the corner on Sidmouth Road used to show the name of the stop, which was clearer still: Gallows Corner. It is marked as Heavitree Gallows on the 1932 Ordnance Survey map, but no longer on the latest Landranger or Explorer maps. Nevertheless, as Gallows Cross or Heavitree Drop is how the road junction is still known to locals.
This is where Devon County held executions. Before the 16th century, they were held with the Exeter city executions at Livery Dole at the top of Heavitree Fore Street. From 1794 they took place in the newly-built Exeter Gaol. It appears that the Bideford witches were executed at Livery Dole in 1682, even though they were not from Exeter, and Gallows Cross was in use at that time.
Find out more:
- Gallows Cross on Exeter Memories
- Exeter’s Executed on Exeter Memories
- Discovering Exeter 3: Heavitree from the Exeter Civic Society (see p40 of the pdf)
- Bideford Witches on DevonLife