Exeter Local History Society usually organises six visits or walks every year to a wide variety of destinations within Exeter. They are listed on the left; just click on whichever title you wish for full information.
(There are also regular bi-monthly talks. Just double click on
"Recent Talks" on the header bar for full information).
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF THE
Thursday, 10 & 18 July 2019
This visit to the University College of the South West, precursor of Exeter University, commenced at the Garden Entrance of RAMM (the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery) where we will learn how education was integral to the vision of the founders. From there we moved on to visit and learn about those nearby buildings erected at the beginning of the 20th Century to provide Schools of Art and Science, the Royal Albert Memorial College, teacher training for women (men had St Lukes) and a student hostel for women.
All this was the realisation of the founders' concept of providing excellent third-tier education for all in the South West. It was not until 1955 that they were granted full university status.
This event was originally scheduled for Wednesday, 10 July, and almost immediately became fully booked. We were glad to be able to offer an identical event on 18 July which became fully booked almost immediately. Full details of the event will shortly be accessible by clicking the appropriate heading in the left hand banner.
Exploring the Quay and its History
Wednesday, 8 May and repeated onThursday, 16 May 2019
We met our guide at 11.00 for a short talk and then a walk past the solitary cannon, up to Transit Shed and across past Smith's to Cricklepit Bridge - and then around the Canal Basin (with its relics of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's railway and Exeter's tram system) and along the Canal, over Willey's Bridge, and back to pass the Port Royal. The tour then visited the Custom House (guns,guns, guns!) and provided an opportunity to examine John Abbot's superb plasterwork.
The whole morning's visit was interspersed with interesting stories about the history of the places we visited and ended around 12.30pm - when some of us chose to stay on and have lunch on the Quay.
For full details see banner on left.
GUIDED TOUR OF ST NICHOLAS PRIORY
17 January 2019
This wonderful building has been magnificently restored by the Exeter Historic Buildings Trust. Founded by William the Conqueror in about 1087, with the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was turned into a home by the wealthy Hurst family. It displays Tudor panelling painted in the bright colours of the period, is adorned with quality replica furniture and has the most enormous fireplaces (sadly not in use so dressing warmly is essential!).
We were taken on a guided tour of the building - exclusively for us - starting with a cuppa at 11 am. Full details are on the banner on the left of this article.
Friday, 14 December 2018
THE MILLS OF OLD EXETER
A short walk along the leat that fed three of the many mills which were so productive more than a hundred years ago. This walk includes a guided visit to the only surviving working mill and to see the millers hard at work !
(For full details, click on 2018.11.16 Exeter's Leats & Mills on left hand banner of this page)
LOST SECRETS OF ASHCLYST FOREST
Walk on 12 September 2018
(and repeated 0n 26 September)
Trees are a prominent and much-loved feature in the Devon countryside, and their history and environmental importance cannot be overemphasised. An ancient woodland right on Exeter’s doorstep is the Clyst Valley and while some parts are well known - Killerton, for example - others are less accessible and await discovery.
On 12 September we experienced a guided discovery walk to explore the history and archaeology of Ashclyst Forest, from medieval field systems and hollow ways right up to the Second World War. We were guided by Jon Freeman, an archaeologist who is the Great Trees in the Clyst Valley Project Officer.
We learnt to identify and appreciate the natural history of sunken lanes, flood meadows, and hill forts, and see with fresh eyes the varied and fascinating historic landscape - thanks to intrepid volunteers who, using historic maps and aerial photographs to navigate, have been hunting for ancient, veteran and notable trees to record in the national inventory. A repeat of this walk was held on 26 September for those who were unable to join the 12 September event.
For the very first time since Powderham opened to visitors in 1957, the tour routes and the tales told of Devon’s 600-year-old family home are changing. After years of study and with input from Universities of Exeter, Plymouth and Pennsylvania, Charlie and AJ (the new Earl and Countess of Devon) are excited to launch this fresh telling of the ancient and unique Powderham story.
The State Room Tour guides guests through the gardens, the grange and the grandest rooms of the Castle – the public face of Powderham. We exploredPowderham’s illustrious architectural history, from its medieval foundation, through Civil War sieges, Georgian, Rococo and Regency expansion, to its dramatic neo-Gothic culmination. All of this via secret doors, long libraries and even a hidden ballroom.
The Upstairs/Downstairs Tour offered a different view – Powderham as the private home of the Courtenay family and their staff for over 600 years. We saw never-before-seen family bedrooms, and were offered a host of intimate and personal insights, spooky stories and winding staircases used for generations.
Walk on Wednesday, 9 May 2018
We visited three churches in Heavitree. This was a wonderful opportunity to see inside St Clare’s, that tiny little chapel in the middle of the road – a traffic planner’s nightmare ! It was built so that people could pray for the souls of those being hanged outside !
We started our walk, however, at the Catholic Church and ended it at the Anglican Church, St Michael and All Angels. We also viewed Gordon’s Memorial (from the days when European countries raced each other to annex portions of Africa) and examined the scene of public hangings and burnings (from the days when such punishments were considered acceptable).
Wednesday, 4 April 2018 Walk
Wednesday 17 January 2018 Visit
VISIT TO POLTIMORE HOUSE
Thursday, 9 November 2017
We experienced a wonderful and interesting guided tour of Poltimore House, parts of which date back to Tudor times. Poltimore's guides are passionate about their subject and they shared with us the history of the Bampfylde family and their Exeter estates. Tea andhome-made cakes were the start of the deal and we then set off to see the rooms and the enormous efforts that the Friends of Poltimore are making to restore the building to its former beauty. Click "2017.11.09 Poltimore House" on left for full details.
Visit to St Luke's College and Grounds
16 September 2017
The College dates back to 1839 though the Heavitree Road site was only taken over in 1854. The site has been beautifully developed with ssome glorious trees and beautiful gardens featuring plants in nooks and crannies. A fascinting morning. The site turns out to be far larger on the inside than is clear from the outside looking in. For full details click on "2017.09.14 St Luke's College" on the banner on the left this page.
The Monmouth Rebellion at the Phoenix Theatre
16 September 2017
A 20-strong cast represents the 3000-strong army of dissenting men and women from Dorset, Devon and Somerset preparing to fight the last ever pitched battle on English soil. We have reserved 20 seats at £1 off. Tickets going fast so book soon. Phone for full details - 07443 601 678. Cost £8 p.p
Visit to Exeter University Gardens
Thursday, 13 July 2017
On a beautiful sunny day we met at the bus stop opposite the entrance to the Northcott Theatre and Malcolm took us on walk around the gardens. He showed us spaces that even people who had worked there had never seen - the enchanting Taddyforde Valley, the cactus garden, the grassy spaces beside Streatham Hall. Full details will be listed on the left bar within the next few days.
Visit to Tiverton Castle
Wednesday,10 May, 2017
Few buildings evoke such a feeling of history as venerable Tiverton Castle. Originally built in 1106 by order of Henry I, and later rebuilt and much enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries, Tiverton Castle was once home of the powerful medieval Earls of Devon and of a Plantagenet Princess. With later additions and alterations down the centuries all periods of architecture from medieval to modern can be seen, with beautiful walled gardens within the romantic ruins.
Part Scheduled Ancient Monument and part Grade I Listed, the Castle is the private home of Angus and Alison Gordon, who were happy to share it with our members on 11 May. We started with coffee in the Gordon’s private dining room and then Alison took us on a trip through the Castle (and through history).
Tiverton had close connections with Exeter, particularly during the days of the wool trade, when it was collected in Tiverton and sailed down the river to be sold in Exeter !
For details of the visit click right on Tiverton Castle.
REMEMBERING THE LOST INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF EXWICK
25 March 2017
The history of Exwick goes back almost a thousand years. It is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it had a Mill and a Manor. By the late 18th Century it had three working Mills and a factory making woollen goods, all now closed and gone - bar one still standing empty and forlorn.
The hills to the North and East, once wooded and later clad in green fields, are now smothered in buildings including many housing estates. But despite all this, enough of the past still exists, tucked away, to give a good idea of the importance of the village of Exwick, just across the river from the city of Exeter.
The Guildhall, Behind the Scenes
Saturday, 12 November 2016
The Guildhall is a building of outstanding architectural interest, an ancient monument and a busy working building. It has served as the centrepiece of Exeter’s civic life for more than 800 years. On 12 November we saw parts of the Guildhall not normally open to the public: precious objects acquired through the ages and displayed in rooms full of history. For full details click on left banner.
In olden days, recycling consisted of a pig. In went uneatable food and in due course the pig provided many a good meal – or money if it was sold.
Recycling through the centuries has become somewhat more sophisticated leading to today’s complex systems. On 15 September we had a talk on the history of recycling (which incidentally provides a fascinating picture of how ordinary people’s living conditions changed through the ages). The talk ended with a Q&A session and a tour of the recycling plant. More details to follow shortly. 2016.09.15 Click "2016.09.15 History of Recycling" on left panel for full details.
BELMONT PARK AND THE ORTHODOX CHAPEL
Friday, 20 Janury 2017
We first met in the Newtown Community Association hut, which is situated in the middle of Belmont Park, for coffee and a talk – and hopefully a short (weather dependent) walk – exploring the history of Exeter's parks and particularly Belmont Park. Michael Parrott will sadly not be free to show us round but he has given us lots of fascinating insights to pass onabout the development of this lovely area. We then proceeded as a group to the Orthodox Chapel. Cost £3. Booking is essential.
More details if you click the adjacent banner.