Medieval Bridge over Exe
Medieval Bridge over Exe

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Past Events Archive

Exeter Local History Society provides between six and twelve lectures every year on a wide variety of subjects. The descriptions of most recent events can be found below. To see information about previous years, please use the search box above or select a year from the Society's history:


11/01/2024 Martha’s Memories: The Later History of St. Nicholas Priory / talk by Ben Clapp
08/02/2024 The Magic Lantern: Views of the local, views of the far away / talk by Dr Richard Crangle
14/03/2024 Crediton and the Great Fire of 1743 / talk by Tony Gale
11/04/2024 Bedless and Lifeless: The History of The Devon and Exeter Hospital / talk by Richard Holladay
09/05/2024 Meeting the promise of ‘Homes for Heroes’ in Exeter after the First World War / talk by Dr. Julia Neville

Meeting the promise of ‘Homes for Heroes’ in Exeter after the First World War

with Dr Julia Neville on Thursday, 9 May 2024
at 7pm at the Mint Methodist Church Centre, Exeter (Rowe Hall)

Prime Minister Lloyd George’s promise of ‘Homes for Heroes’ in recognition of the sacrifices made by working men during the long years of the First World War is widely known — even if he never quite used those actual words! Exeter entered the 1920s as a city with considerable over-crowding and a city centre where many properties were dilapidated and ‘injurious to health’ and needed replacement. More homes — many more homes — were definitely required and the government acknowledged that was the case.

In this talk Dr Julia Neville, ELHS member and project manager for the Devon in the 1920s project, explored the efforts made by various parties in Exeter to keep that promise. The council — which had almost no pre-war experience of building council houses — did its best to create new ‘council estates’ against a backdrop of economic recession. Together with private builders and developers and with some help from social housing organizations like the Church Army Housing Society, they changed the landscape of Exeter, and much of what they built still exists today.

Bedless and Lifeless: The History of The Devon and Exeter Hospital

with Richard Holladay on Thursday, 11 April 2024
at 7pm at The Mint Methodist Church Centre, Exeter (Wesley Room)

The Southernhay building had been the home of the Devon & Exeter Hospital, later the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, since the mid-18th century until 1974, when the RD&E was moved to Wonford. One of the largest hospitals in South West England, it had welcomed numerous patients from across the region and was a place of work and study for many healthcare professionals and professionals-in-training.

Some may well recall Southernhay as a busy institution but dated and verging on the inadequate. Few people, though, would ever have experienced it as an empty building or have explored even part of it from basement to attic. Our speaker, Richard Holladay did, with permission, in August 2009. As he recalls, he was searching for evidence of Garton & King's work in the early days of the Hospital and got sidetracked! In his talk, Richard shared his at times provoking memories and showed the images he took during his visits.

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Crediton and the Great Fire of 1743

with Tony Gale on Thursday, 14 March 2024
at 7pm at The Mint Methodist Church Centre, Exeter (Wesley Room)

Crediton and the Great Fire of 1743 looks at two striking things which happened in Crediton that year. An unusually detailed map of the town was drawn up for the Lord of the Manor, and just a few months later, most of the town centre was destroyed by fire. There is a rich archive of contemporary documents about the fire and its aftermath. This talk covered the period before, during and after the fire, revealing some intriguing stories about life in 18th century Devon.

Tony Gale is a Devonian with a lifelong interest in history. Since retiring from paid work, he has taken an MA at the University of Exeter and is working with the Crediton Area History & Museum Society, Devon History Society, Devon & Cornwall Record Society to further his interest in and contribution towards local history.

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The Magic Lantern

views of the local, views of the far away
with Dr Richard Crangle on Thursday, 8 February 2024
at 7pm at Southernhay URC Church, Exeter (Garden Room)

The Magic Lantern has been used for more than 360 years to represent and feed into every aspect of human life and culture, in every part of the world. Yet today it is almost unknown or put aside as 'just' an ancestor of the cinema. Dr Richard Crangle explained a bit more, with an original 1890s lantern and slides, including some local views not often seen.

Richard Crangle has a PhD in early film and related media and has been researching magic lantern slides for over twenty-five years, with a particular focus on British commercial slide manufacture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His most recent post was as an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, working on the ‘Million Pictures’ European collaboration project researching the use of the projected image in educational and heritage contexts in several EU countries. Among other projects he has been largely responsible for creating and developing the Lucerna Magic Lantern Web Resource,

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Martha’s Memories

The Later History of St. Nicholas Priory
with Ben Clapp on Thursday, 11 January 2024
at 7pm at The Mint Methodist Church

St Nicholas Priory, Exeter's oldest building has had a long history, which has included its time as a monastery and many years as a grand Tudor home. However, its later history has many interesting stories to tell which bring the building to life. Ben Clapp has been involved with St. Nicholas Priory for some sixteen years and during his time being involved there, initially through his job at RAMM and now as a volunteer, he has studied this interesting but previously almost unknown period of the building's history. This has included the periods when it was used as a penny kitchen run by local nuns and when its parts were used as a school gym. This talk will explore the history of St Nicholas Priory in general and this period in particular, perhaps illuminating some of the things seen by our longest resident, Martha the (stuffed!) Raven who has watched the building for nearly a century.

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