Exeter Exchange menagerie in United Kingdom

Exeter Exchange menagerie
An anonymous cartoon depicting Chunees execution at Exeter Exchange menagerie 1826
An anonymous cartoon depicting Chunees execution at Exeter Exchange menagerie 1826

Closed down1855
Exeter Exchange
CountryUnited Kingdom
Relevant literature

Exeter Exchange menagerie, located at (1773-1829)
Exeter Exchange, in London, in United Kingdom, was founded in 1773. Exeter Exchange menagerie closed down in 1855.

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The Exeter Exchange (popularly known as Exeter Change) was a building on the north side of the Strand in London, with an arcade extending partway across the carriageway. It is most famous for the menagerie that occupied its upper floors for over 50 years, from 1773 until it was demolished in 1829. From 1773, the upper rooms were let to a series of impresarios who operated a menagerie in competition with the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. The menagerie at the Exeter Exchange included lions, tigers, monkeys, and other exotic species, all confined in iron cages in small rooms. The roaring of the big cats could be heard in the street below, occasionally scaring horses that passed by. It was owned by the Pidcock family and then Stephani Polito, both operators of travelling circuses, who used the Exeter Exchange as winter quarters for their animals. The menagerie was a popular visitor attraction. It was visited by Wordsworth and Byron; artists such as Edwin Landseer and Jacques-Laurent Agasse painted the animals.

Polito died in 1814, and the menagerie was acquired by one of his former employees, Edward Cross. Cross renamed the collection the Royal Grand National Menagerie, and employed a doorkeeper who was dressed as a Yeoman of the Guard. His bad-tempered elephant, Chunee, was shot there in March 1826 by soldiers from Somerset House. When the Exeter Exchange was demolished in 1829, as part of general improvements to the Strand, the animals were dispersed to the new London Zoo in Regents Park and Crosss new enterprise at Surrey Zoological Gardens.

Exeter Hall was built on the site, opening in 1831 and surviving until 1907. The site is now occupied by the Strand Palace Hotel.


References for records about Exeter Exchange menagerie

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2020). Exeter Exchange menagerie, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at https://www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=537. (archived at the Wayback machine)

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This document was updated: 2020-10-30 07:03:11

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