Nestled in the heart of Exeter, adjacent to the Guildhall, The Turk's Head stands as a testament to over 700 years of history. Once a pub with a fascinating past, it has been lovingly restored and reopened in 2021, complete with a microbrewery and six beautifully refurbished bedrooms. As you step into this venerable establishment, you'll find yourself surrounded by the echoes of tales from the past. Let us delve into the historical factors that make The Turk's Head a truly captivating venue.

The Name and its Legends

The origins of the pub's name have been the subject of intriguing speculation. One theory suggests that it derived from a macabre event when a Turkish prisoner was executed nearby using an axe, leaving an indelible mark on the local consciousness. Another possibility alludes to the crusades of Turkish pirates who raided the Cornish coast in the 16th and 17th centuries, thereby lending their name to this establishment. The precise origin may remain shrouded in history, but it adds an air of mystery and intrigue to the pub's legacy.

Origins and Guildhall Connection

The story of The Turk's Head begins in the year 1289, marking an incredible timeline of more than seven centuries. Its establishment was not without its quirks, as the pub had to pay a fee of one penny to the Historic Guildhall for the privilege of leaning a single beam against its walls. Over time, this fee increased to two pennies during the reign of Charles II, a custom that remains in effect to this day, serving as a unique homage to the past.

Exeter's Historic Guildhall

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Charles Dickens and Dicken's Corner

The Turk's Head boasts an association with the celebrated author Charles Dickens, who frequented the pub and even had his own corner where he would pen his timeless novels. It was within these walls that Dickens met the character "Fat Boy," which has now become the pub's most popular beer and is featured prominently on all their merchandise. The rich literary heritage woven into the fabric of The Turk's Head makes it a place of inspiration and creativity.

The Fire and Renovation

In 1874, a devastating fire swept through a significant portion of the pub, leaving it in ruins. However, the indomitable spirit of The Turk's Head prevailed, and the building underwent extensive renovation in the early 1900s. The restoration not only brought it back to its former glory but also expanded its footprint, ensuring that its historical significance endured for generations to come.

The Marines and Local Stories

The Turk's Head has served as a cherished stomping ground for the Marines and locals of Exeter, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. Although the pub briefly ceased being The Turk's Head in 2005, memories of past experiences lingered. Today, patrons old and new gather to share their cherished stories, creating a unique bond between the pub and its visitors.

Visit us

Stepping into The Turk's Head is like stepping back in time, immersing oneself in the rich history that has unfolded within its walls for more than 700 years. From its humble beginnings, paying a penny for a beam, to its association with Charles Dickens and the tales of Turkish origins, this pub stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Exeter. As locals and visitors continue to gather, their stories intertwine with the tapestry of The Turk's Head, ensuring that this historical gem remains a cherished part of Exeter's heritage for many years to come.


The Turk’s Head
Double room

Now complete with its very own microbrewery, The Turk’s Head is located next to the Guildhall in central Exeter. With six rooms, it's the perfect place for all occasions.

Exeter Historic Guildhall
Historic Site
Exeter Guildhall interior

The Guildhall has served as the centrepiece of Exeter's civic life for more than 800 years.



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