Museums

 
WELCOME TO OUR MUSEUM PAGE
 
A good place to start is Devon Museums  There are many more museums further out, but also please check opening dates and times as a lot will close during off seasons.

Dartmoor Prison Museum  in 1805 whilst Great Britian was at war with France, Prisoners of War were held on large de-commissioned ships called hulks, along the south coast.  Plymouth had six such prison hulks facing the problem of a close proximity of a large number of volatile captives so close to the Royal Dockyard.  An alternative location was chosen to hold them.  The wild uplands of Dartmoor.  From a Prisoner of War Depot holding French, and later in the War of 1812 Americans, unlock the intriguing history of Dartmoor Prison.
 
Totnes Elizabethan House and Museum  You enter the Museum through the reception in what would have been the Elizabethan merchant's shop. If you wander through to the rear, you will enter the courtyard and herb garden where they grow lavender, sage, thyme and rosemary amongst other herbs. You may buy a bunch of herbs with the Museum's ancient recipe leaflet to try your medieval culinary skills out at home!  Once you through reception you will arrive at the Bennett Room...
Have a browse through the history of Totnes. The Museum has a very special display of the Lee Ring, which has a twin in the V&A in London; and there are early coins minted in the town over a thousand years ago. Including one from the reign of King Canute of turning back the waves fame!
To get to the other floors you climb a Devon Pole Staircase — wooden winding stairs around a central pole which runs from ground floor to roof.  They think this pole had previously been the mast of a man of war!

Torquay Museum  Searching for things to do in Torquay and Devon? Come to Torquay Museum and enjoy all the fun and family activities they have to offer - exhibitions, activities, events, lectures, outdoor activities and more! 
The richness of the cave archaeology housed at Torquay Museum has always drawn researchers to the collections. Sir Arthur Keith wrote early reports on the human remains in the 1930s, while in the 1970s John Campbell studied the tools of the upper palaeolithic in some depth. 
Take a look at the Events page as there are always doing new things there, Various Talks and exhibits.  

Come and see the Agatha Christie Gallery Trace the eventful life of the best-selling author of all time in this recently re-developed and improved gallery dedicated solely to Agatha Christie – her life, her novels and her plays.  Visitors can now step inside Poirot’s study and lounge, reconstructed in the Agatha Christie Gallery, and including furniture, books, pictures and even fireplaces from his beautiful London Art Deco apartment.

Brixham Heritage Museum  Dedicated to the history and heritage of the town of Brixham in Devon  
Brixham Bone Caverns  This introduces visitors to Brixham's beginnings, displaying the formation of the caverns, animals which lived in the ice age and fossils found within the caverns. Fisherman's Cottage  A reconstruction of the crowded conditions which would have been the norm for fishing families around 1900s.
Berry Head Barracks A Napoleonic soldier and cannon guard the area which illustrates the lives of the soldiers and their families on Berry Head and displays finds made by our archaeological team. 
Recent Archaeological Finds Finds from Berry Head spanning prehistoric times to World War II 
Lupton House DisplayDisplaying finds from Lupton House recovered by our archaeological team and by children from the former Gramercy Hall School.
Lacemaking and Theatre Displays  - and so much more

Torre Abbey  HISTORIC HOUSE & GARDENS  It is one of the best buildings in the country to tell the story of 800 years of Catholicism between 1196 and 1930. This museum uses a clever mix of authentic artefacts with hi-tech interpretation. From talking portraits and statues to interactive displays and one of the largest fine art collections in the South West, there really is something for everyone. Follow the garden trails or pick up a family guide or Experts’ Choice to discover many hidden mysteries. With a wealth of exotic plants, the gardens are a tranquil haven of beauty and pleasure and the perfect setting in which to relax, stroll or picnic.

Bygones - ok not technically listed under the Museum sticker but an attraction,  immerse yourself in a genuine experience of the past. From the cobbled floor to the original signs and shops brimming with products, there's so much to see at the General Store, Sweet Shop, Lace shop, Blacksmith, Haberdashery & Milliner, Post office, Apothecary, Toy Shop, Bakery, Jeweller, Ironmonger, Grocer, Dolls Store, HMV Shop, Pawnbroker and Pub. Above the Street, you'll discover even more of the Victorian age as you walk through themed rooms from Nursery, Bedroom, Bathroom, Kitchen and Parlour. You can even visit the Victorian dentist and see a prison cell from the past. Discover Bygones displays of militaria from Waterloo to WWI, WWII and the Gulf War.  See a Real Shelter.  Hear the sounds of wartime.  Walk through the trenches.  A nostalgic experience with three floors and 100 years of British History, authentic curiosities, interactive displays and quirky memorabilia.  
From the Victorians to wartime Britain and the fabulous fifties, wonder at the thousands of objects on display at Bygones, including advertising, arts, dolls, fashion, furniture, games, homeware, letters, medals, packaging, raiilwayana, models and toys. 

Further afield...

Ashburton Museum  It houses a unique collection, which, in addition to items of local interest, includes a large collection of North American Indian artifacts.Ashburton Museum is now a fully registered museum officially recognised by the Museums and Galleries Commission.

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum  Free Entry.  
The collection includes artefacts dating from the seventeenth century to the present day, covering all aspects of cinema, pre-cinema and the history of the moving image. The collection is very diverse but is united by an emphasis on the audience’s experience of the moving image.

Bovey Tracey Heritage Centre Free Entry, Donations welcome  The small museum with a big heart! Bovey Tracey Heritage Centre is situated off the A382 in the old railway station building, which was in use on the branch line to Moretonhampstead for nearly 100 years. Whether you are interested in family history, local pottery, the history of mining and quarrying in the area, following the route of the old railway, or just browsing through our archive photographs, there is something for everyone at the Heritage Centre.

Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum  In the galleries you will find both permanent displays and special exhibitions showing how the people of the area have lived, worked and played over many generations.A highlight of your visit may be viewing the collection of photographs from the 1870s to the present day or a visit to our Heritage Resource Centre for personal research and access to the archives and local records

Newton Abbot Town and GWR Museum  The museum is divided into small rooms that cover aspects of the towns varied history. The exhibitions are updated every year so there is always something new to see.  The Great Western Railway Room explores the town's links with the railways. Information is available on I.K. Brunel's great engineering achievements.  The museum collections focus on the social history of Newton Abbot and environs, the GWR history including the social history of the GWR & its affect on the town & its people.  The Oral History Archive exists to record material that might otherwise be lost to future generations providing a resource & raising awareness of Newton Abbot’s history.

Teign Heritage Centre, home to Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum, There is an admission fee. Visit  and discover the fascinating history of Teignmouth and Shaldon, from a mysterious shipwreck and the amazing story of naval hero Admiral Pellew, to local band Muse.  
Teignmouth & Shaldon have a long maritime history of fishing and shipbuilding. Men spent the summer on the cod banks of Newfoundland while their women fished at home. Morgan Giles shipyard 1921-1968 built over 1,000 boats, from racing yachts to Admiralty vessels and luxury motor cruisers.  As visitors enter the Centre they will first notice the restored Victorian Bathing Machine. Past the old pier slot machines, the ground floor ‘Sea Gallery’ looks at Shaldon and Teignmouth’s ties to the sea.  The Sea Gallery features the remains of a 16th century Venetian vessel (the Church Rocks Wreck), which was originally found by young lad Simon Burton while diving off the beach at Teignmouth in 1975. This fascinating collection includes a cannon, a swivel gun, original ship’s timbers, and several cannonballs.

Topsham Museum  Admission free but donations welcome to cover running costs.  Topsham Museum is housed in one of a group of late 17th century buildings overlooking the Exe Estuary. Following completion of a stunning new River gallery, the Museum was 'long-listed' for the Art Fund Prize in 2008.  Part of the Museum's focus is on Topsham's maritime history - one particular showpiece is the River Gallery, featuring unique historic river craft. Visitors can also enjoy the furnished period rooms of the original merchants house and the Sail Loft with its historical timeline of the town's general history. Other interesting exhibits include wildlife of the Exe Estuary, local trades and organisations and memorabilia of the film star Vivien Leigh.

Totnes Fashion and Textiles Museum 
Situated on Totnes High Street in a Grade 1 listed building with fine original Tudor plaster ceilings, the Totnes Fashion & Textile Museum is home to the Devonshire Collection of Period Costume, the largest private collection of its type in the UK. The annual exhibition can display only a small part of the collection, which holds tens of thousands of objects and items of clothing. The earliest date from about 1650, although most come from the 18th century to the present day. The collection has more than 100 storage boxes each holding multiple hats, and eight boxes simply storing shawls. There are legions of accessories, handbags and shoes, and clothes ranging from the sumptuous to the everyday. The museum is fortunate to have a team of committed volunteers and an experienced curator who will work with schools, colleges and other groups to tailor presentations as required, and bring out everything from corsetry to evening wear. While of particular interest to those studying textiles or fashion, the collection also provides a rich source of material for those interested in social history.  This year’s exhibition, ‘High Days & Holidays’; travels through time. We can see the early visitors to spa towns such as Bath; the passengers who used the railways to reach the newly developed seaside resorts in the 19th century; and the ordinary people who can enjoy day trips in charabancs as the 20th century begins. Here are the wealthy travellers who develop a taste for yachts and cruising in the 1920s, and the exhibition comes up to date with a final focus on the experience of package holidays and mass tourism.  Memories may be stirred by the more recent displays, for what can be more evocative than the clothes which characterised our earlier lives? Visitors can sympathise with the unknown laundresses who had to keep the fine fabrics immaculate, or speculate about what life must have been like for the people whose clothes have somehow survived, and are here for us to view.

The Valiant Soldier Heritage Centre  The Valiant Soldier was an active pub until it closed in the 1960s. It has recently been opened as a museum, giving visitors a glimpse of the past. In 1838 there were 700 looms in Buckfastleigh; more than in any other town in Devon. Wow! It is estimated that (in 1801) 30% of the population were working in agriculture and 70% in the woollen industry. However there were a few mines of differing types within a few miles probably still operating in the area. There was an industrial switch from looms in people’s cottages to factories in the town. The Hamlyn family were key developers of this change in the 19th century. Curiously, in the century before that, the Buckfastleigh woollen industry was supplying the East India Company who sold Devon woollens into the Chinese market! Buckfastleigh did well at this time by incorporating all the processes from local production through to the finished product. We intend to build up this important connection with the town which is currently underrepresented.