VISIT TO MILLBROOK VILLAGE
Monday, 17 April 2017
Some of us remembered that back in 2014, Dr Salvatore gave the Society a talk about the archaeological discoveries made at the Millbrook site. The land is midway between Exeter and the port of Topsham and straddled the connecting road Goods could be offloaded at Topsham for storage at what is now the Millbrook site.
It was almost certainly a fort rather than a fortress having very few barracks yet sizeable widely spaced military buildings. Evidence was found of amphorae for wines and fish sauces (presumably imported through Topsham port) plus high quality building materials, and a workshop, almost certainly for smelting iron.
In the 20th century came the redoubtable Georgiana Buller. She had maintained her position as administrator for all the WW1 military hospitals in Exeter – in defiance of military regulations that such a post could never be held by a woman – and after the war she graduated, not unsurprisingly, towards a concern for the disabled.
A donation from Dame Violet Wills of the tobacco family, enabled the purchase in 1937 of Millbrook House (on the site of the old Roman fort) and St Loyes College was born. Funding was never easy but Dame Georgiana succeeded in persuading wealthy local residents to donate cash and gifts. As a result, St Loyes was able to provide further accommodation for students and to create workshops offering horology, gardening, leatherwork, woodwork and cookery. It soon expanded into one of the country’s foremost training centres for those with disabilities.
Dame Georgiana then raised funding to purchase the adjoining Fairfield House (left) and grounds when it came onto the market.. New workshops and modern accommodation blocks were constructed and extensions added to Fairfield House.
However, in 2008 St Loyes moved to New North Road (behind John Lewis) and the land was bought by Helical Bar Plc for development into Millbrook Village, a very charming and beautifully designed collection of houses and flats for the over-50s.