Exeter Local History Society provides six lectures every year on a wide variety of subjects. Summaries are below. Click on the title on the left hand column for the full write-up or, to return to the Home page, click on "Home" in the banner at the top of this page.
John Allan, by popular request, returned on 10 October 2018 to tell us more about the building of Exeter Cathedral. Back in April John took us through its history from Norman times to the middle of the 14th Century. Today he took us through to this century. Full details by clicking the entry on the green banner on the left.
Wednesday, 8 August 2018
Illustrated Talk at Jurys Inn
"Exeter Workmens' Dwellings" with Richard Holladay
This talk was a summary of Dr Charles Newton Lovely’s life and his involvement in the foundation of this innovative undertaking to alleviate and replace some of the appalling slum conditions and tenements abounding in Exeter in the mid 1920s.
The significant achievements that he, together with like-minded colleagues, attained in supplying affordable and well appointed social housing within our City has largely been overlooked,(although the successors to this undertaking still operate today as Cornerstone Housing). This presentation is another step toward rectifying this oversight.
Dr Lovely was the Founding Chairman of the company they created - the Exeter Workmen's Dwellngs Company Ltd - and remained in that position for ten years until he retired. He was also heavily involved in the St John Ambulance, he was for a period a Prison Doctor and, whilst living in Exeter, his medical practice was in St Leonards.
The battle for women’s right to vote was fought up and down the country, in Exeter as much as anywhere else. Dr Neville, in an illustrated talk, uncovered the stories of local activists: Jessie Montgomery, widely regarded as 'godmother' to the University of Exeter; Edith Splatt, later to be Exeter's first woman councillor; Mary Willocks, early Mills-and-Boon novelist; and Robert Newman, who became Exeter's MP in 1918. Julia also described open-air meetings at the Triangle and the prison where the 'Exeter hunger strikers' were locked up.
For full details, click on banner on left: 2018.06.13 "Votes for Women"
This illustrated talk by the Cathedral’s own archaeologist, in informed us in great and often amusing detail the history of the cathedral.
John is a great speaker and his skills in providing a high standard of buildings analysis, research and assessment while producing talks that are reliable, well-illustrated, and free from jargon are highly regarded.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 Talk at Jurys Inn
History of Exeter Through Its Maps
Jurys Inn on 10 August 2017
Dr Todd Gray and Chris Reed of Freeline Graphics showed us and talked about maps covering a period from 1587 to the insurance maps of the 1930s. A wonderful skim through the history of Exeter over nearly 400 years. For full details click banner on left - 2017.08.10 Exeter's History via Maps.
DELLER'S OF BEDFORD STREET
Jurys Inn — 7pm
Wednesday, 11 October 2017
Ed Williams-Hawkes talked to us about the famous and sumptuous Deller’s of Bedford Street which was so sadly destroyed in the Blitz. He showed us a selection of slides showing Deller’s in its heyday – part of the remarkable collection which he and his colleagues have worked so tirelessly to amass. For full details click on banner on left: "2017.10.11 Deller's of Bedford Street"
Exeter’s busy Tudor bakers, their wares, their families, their homes and their working lives.
Jurys Inn — 7pm — Thursday, 8 June 2017
Exeter’s Elizabethan bakers produced the staple food that everyone depended on, whether wealthy merchant or poor relief recipients. Dr Kate Osborne has created individual biographies for over 70 Tudor bakers from local archival sources and she described their daily lives, family connections, homes and family businesses. She also explored the issues that affected their busy working lives.
EXETER'S FIRST WORLD WAR HOSPITALS
Jurys Inn - 7pm - Thursday, 13 April 2017
Exeter’s First World War Red Cross Hospitals were amongst the earliest to be commissioned by the War Office after war broke out. Buildings all around Exeter were converted into hospitals by the end of August. They took their first patients in early October and by Christmas 1914 they provided more Red Cross beds than any other provincial town in Britain. This was a lead they maintained, under their redoubtable administrator Georgiana Buller, the only woman to keep her post as Administrator, in defiance of military protocol, under the War Office takeover of large Red Cross hospitals in 1916.
For more details click on "2017.03.13 Exeter's WW1 Hospitals" on the banner to the left of this page.
POLISH AIR FIGHTERS IN WORLD WAR II
Thursday, 8 December 2016 at Jury’s Inn
Over 70 years ago Exeter was defended from the Luftwaffe’s bombing raids by a small band of comrades, the Polish 307 Squadron RAF known as "The Eagle Owls". That night-fighter squadron has become widely forgotten, not just in Exeter but even in Poland.
When local amateur historian Michael Parrott discovered a wooden plaque in a chapel within the Higher Cemetery, little did he know that it would take him on an amazing journey of discovery about that Squadron.
He toldl us how he has spent the last four years researching and promoting the role of that Polish squadron. He has met and recorded interviews with veterans, helped family members discover more about relatives who served in the squadron, and, as a member of the 307 Squadron Project, a British-Polish registered charity, held a number of exhibitions both in the UK and Poland. They have thousands of followers on Facebook.
INVASION, TWO SIEGES AND A CIVIL WAR
Thursday, 13 October at 7pm at Jury’s Inn
William the Conqueror, to consolidate his power, besieged Exeter when the Saxons openly defied him. He won. Not a hundred years later, civil war raged through England and Exeter is once again at the centre of things. This time the city was besieged by King Stephen while Exeter Castle was held in the name of the Empress Maud.
Malcolm Foster has always been passionate about Medieval English history. His book “The Eyes of Exeter” was a stunning historical novel about Exeter’s resistance to William the Conqueror. He followed this up with a second book, “The Demon in the Bones” in September 2013.
He taught the subject at St. John’s, Sidmouth, for many years. He has also written many pieces for piano, as well as a song cycle “On Romney Marsh not far from Rye”, which was recorded in 1986. On top of these accomplishments he has written and produced more than a hundred plays for his pupils at St. John’s as well as producing plays at the Manor Pavilion in Sidmouth and at the lovely theatre in Stonehouse, Plymouth.
100 Things You Should Know About Exeter
On Tuesday, 6 September 2016, members enjoyed an exceptional evening when the well-known and entertaining historian (and member), Dr Todd Gray, took us skipping through the city’s history by relating little-known but fascinating events that have occurred in the City over the last 500 years.
Todd is well known throughout Exeter for his many books on the city’s history (numbering over 40!) and for his delightful and often very humorous presentations of our past. We were delighted that Todd explored some little known events in our history and there certainly were some startling revelations.
On 14 April 2016, Tony Lethbridge, who is a local historian and who also has a life long interest in military history, gave us a talk on the First World War from the viewpoint of Exeter. He had visited many historic battlefields and in the last ten years particularly those of the First World War.
His talk outlined life in Exeter during the war years along with events in Flanders and other places where Exonians were involved in the conflict.
SIDNEY ENDACOTT, Artist
Talk by Christine Trigger
On 11 February, 2016, immediately after our AGM, we were honoured by a talk from our
well-known member, Christine Trigger, about a little-known artist, Sidney Endacott. His paintings are delightful and show an Exeter long gone.
Christine took us through his life and showed us slides of his superb canvases of the Exeter area. His painting of the meeting room at Tucker’s Hall graces the front cover of Christine’s book (members will remember this room from having our own meeting there on 12 June 2014). Endacott died in 1918 leaving as his legacy beautiful records of Exeter around the turn of the century.
Retailing in Exeter 1880-1940
On Thursday, 10 December 2015, Richard Holladay explained that Exeter's city centre in the 60 years before 1940 has changed almost out of all recognition. Through adverts of the period he showed us at the familiar and the unfamilar, and we saw how products were promoted and marketed – a far cry from the restrictions of the Trades Description Act that we have to abide by nowadays. And of course we observed how the style and format of advertising has changed, not to mention the products.
With the help of over 50 images Richard took us back to the inter-war years – and beyond. . . back into Victoria’s reign. . .
For full details double cllick on: 11.12.15: RETAILING IN EXETER 1880-1940
On Thursday, 8 October, 2015, Society members were delighted with a talk by David Force of Force & Son, Estate Agents. Here are a couple of anecdotes from his talk; full details of the talk are available by clicking Force & Son on the left column.
"...An ancestor, too crippled by arthritis and therefore unable to mount the horse-drawn trams which he favoured, paid a small boy to carry fo him a mounting stool. The boy was then expected to run along beside the tram to have the stool ready outside Force & Son to enable his employer to dismount. The boy then took the stool home and the process was repeated in reverse every evening!"
"...Force were also funeral directors but gave up the business after Arthur (David’s father) went to collect a corpse who had died sitting up. Attempts to straighten the body caused it to fall forward and wrap its arms round poor Arthur. After that they sold the business!
On 13th August, 2015, David Cornforth showed us photographs from every walk of life - children "sledging" on the frozen river, the Tower Bridge look-alike over the river, a wingless plane being pushed along the road having landed in a cornfield and been unable to take off again from the long corn! Also the railway, canal and river, the site of what became Middlemoor, the Deaf School, Colleton Crescent, the Gas Works, the Cattle Market, the greyhound track and Speedway, and many many more.
TEIGN VALLEY RAILWAY: 11.06.2015
A fascinating talk exploring the railway which carried goods and people to and from Exeter, the former for export around England and indeed the world, the latter to enjoy themselves and get the last train home (when the pubs closed). There are photographs taken fifty years ago of stations, bridges and engines which have since been destroyed (some by nature, some by man).
For full details click here:
WITCHCRAFT IN THE WEST COUNTRY: 9.04.2015
Steve Patterson is a woodcarver and a folklorist whose main interests are the magical traditions of the West Country. Steve will be sharing some local accounts of witchcraft and magical practices and will also be looking at the development of our ideas of magic and witchcraft …and indeed the very ideas of folklore and history themselves.
WYNARDS ALMSHOUSES These old and very beautiful buildings have a long history. Now privately owned, for many centuries they provided shelter for the Christian poor (who were fined if they missed Church!) though their managers/owners were often in trouble for not following the terms of the endowment.