Located within the University of Exeter’s award-winning green Streatham Campus and surrounded by tranquil gardens and beautiful trees, Reed Hall feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Today this Grade II listed Italianate mansion is a versatile year-round meeting venue hosting all types of events, functions, and celebrations within its 7 elegant meeting rooms, but this has not always been the case.

In this blog, we’ve lifted the lid on Reed Hall’s fascinating past to reveal why this former Victorian home is certainly not your average meeting venue.

1867 - The building of Reed Hall

Richard Thornton West, a wealthy former East Indian merchant, commissioned the building of what was then called Streatham Hall in 1867. The foundation stone was laid on the June 7th by his son, aged two and a half. 150 workmen were employed to construct the house at a cost of £80,000. The landscaping and gardens, including the planting of specimens from every continent of the world by the Veitch Nursery cost almost as much and totalled an eye-watering £70,000!

1891 - The iconic palm house

In 1891 a beautiful, heated palm house was added. The largest palm it housed measured 30 feet tall! This iconic structure remained until 1926, before it was sold and moved to the nearby Imperial Hotel. It’s still there today and is now known as the orangery.

1914 to 1918 – From family home to war hospital

In August 1914, Reed Hall was requisitioned as accommodation for First World War troops. By 1917 the number of war casualties was growing, leading to Streatham Hall being converted for use as a temporary war hospital for officers - one of 7 military hospitals in Exeter. In 1918, land for 21 allotments was released from the estate, as part of the drive to produce more food, due to the U-boat blockade.

1921 – A royal visit

In May 1921, the Prince of Wales, whilst visiting Exeter to unveil the Devon War Memorial, visited the hall to meet the wounded. It is said that he shook hands with every man and remarked that he was ‘charmed by the excellence of the building’.

1922 – A centre of learning begins

Following the war, Streatham Hall went on the market for just £8,000. It was bought by former Exeter Mayor W H Reed, who gifted it to the College of the Southwest, on the condition that the college would one day acquire University status. The building was renamed Reed Hall in his honour and opened as a hall of residence for 70 male students in 1925.

1939 to 1945 – Raising morale during the war

With many young men joining the war effort and deferring their education, Reed Hall was again requisitioned and became a centre for blind evacuees from London. To help raise morale, several social events were held at the hall, including a concert by the Glenn Miller Band for US troops.

1955 – present day

The College of the Southwest became a university in 1955. Since then, the university has expanded dramatically, with Reed Hall now a popular and elegant meeting and conference centre. The gardens are still lovingly cared for, providing a peaceful haven on the edge of a busy campus.

So, you see, there really is more to Reed Hall than meets the eye. With its fascinating history, and overflowing with character and charm, Reed Hall provides the perfect backdrop for your next event.

To find out more and to book your next event, visit the website, or call a member of the Event Exeter team today on 0300 555 0214.




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