Last week I decided to have a few hours out, so I visited a Museum in the town close to where I live, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.
Situated in the town of Tiverton in Mid Devon, is the Tiverton Museum. The Museum is a place to learn all about the life and local history of Tiverton and the surrounding area. It’s much bigger than I expected and I spent a good few hours wandering through the halls that are filled with lots of interesting exhibits.
Devon Agricultural life
There’s a large number of displays dedicated to agriculture and farming life in Devon, from cider presses, to farming implements. The displays give the visitor an incredible overview of life in the industry before mechanisation. Visitors can learn about sowing crops, ploughing and even milling. Some of the farming artefacts date back to the 1800’s and some of the cider press items are even older.
Doomsday Book and Archaeology
My favourite part of the museum was the Britton Gallery, which houses some archaeological displays (and you know how much I love archaeology!). It includes information about archaeological ages, some hand axes reputed to be around 400,000 years old, and there is also information about the Bolham Roman Fort, The bit I liked the most was reading about the Doomsday Book. A number of villages surrounding Tiverton are mentioned in the Doomsday Book, and it was fascinating to read more, especially as the village I live in, is one of the places mentioned! It seems that the area of Tiverton is very steeped in history if you look hard enough.
Anyone who knows Tiverton well will know all about the Heathcoat family and their factory. Part of the museum is set aside to inform visitors about the Heathcoats and it highlight’s the history of the family, and the work undertaken at the factory, including some of the machinery that would have been used in the past. There’s also a board telling visitors about the use of lace made at the factory; including lace that went on to make Princess Diana’s wedding veil.
Through the Ages
There are a number of galleries that show Tiverton and surrounding areas through the ages. These include Kitchen and Laundry, Cottage Parlour, and the Upper and Lower Amory Galleries. There are so many great things to see in these galleries, including a prison door, local trade artefacts and Civic Life. My favourite was the WW1 and WW2 section. It included a number of war items including rations books, warden/fire guard and home guard insignias, and even an Anderson shelter (complete with an operational air-raid siren!).
Outside in the Courtyard there are more pieces of agricultural equipment. In a side gallery there’s a fantastic Silverton Fire Engine thought to date from around 1837. A second gallery contains an extensive display of farm wagons that belonged to a local farming family from Netherexe Barton. It’s wonderful that this local heritage has been preserved for people to see and learn from.
The Tivvy Bumper
The final gallery is home to the Tivvy Bumper, a sparkling green and black locomotive that used to operate on local railway lines. The Tivvy Bumper is surrounded by and extensive collection of railway items, such as signals, and railway signs. There is also a board that tells the history of the railways and various railway stations in the Tiverton area. Information on various road transport and of course the Grand Western Canal is also present in the gallery.
As well as all of the exhibits mentioned above the museum also has a Tourist Information Service and a great shop full of books, postcards, keyrings, magnets and some lovely Tiverton themed gifts. The staff were so friendly and welcoming and I really enjoyed my visit to Tiverton Museum. It’s an interesting and inspiring place that provides so much information about the history of Tiverton and surrounding areas, and I shall definitely go back to visit it again soon.
- Have you been to visit Tiverton Museum? If so what was your favourite artefact or gallery?
Chrissie is an author who loves history, and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com