East Devon through the ages
A visit to Exeter Museum, or more properly The Royal Albert Museum in Exeter will give you a fascinating insight into the history of Exeter and East Devon as well as a journey around the world.
As you enter the Museum a member of staff is waiting to open the door and greet you. An imposing staircase leads to a gallery around the first floor level of the entrance hall.
Exeter Museum has a comprehensive collection of objects from all periods of history.
Tour the museum
Travel through history as you browse the Stone Age artefacts that have been found on farms throughout East Devon. Imagine yourself living in primitive times as you pass through the reconstruction of a Bronze Age house.
Then move on into Roman Exeter – Isca Dumnoniorum stronghold and trading post. The Roman army had a fortress and barracks in the city. Exeter Museum has a large model of the barrack block and a reconstruction of the Roman bathhouse. On the wall you can admire the work in a lovely piece of mosaic floor that was once part of a townhouse corridor.
The children, or the child in your soul, can have a go at making your own mosaic using pieces of tiles and sticking them to a magnetic board to make a pattern.
Time moves on and so did Exeter. The Museum displays of the Saxon and Norman City give an idea of what it was like to live in this prosperous city. Archaeologists have uncovered many fine examples of craftsmanship.
One of the most amazing things in Exeter Museum is the large model of Exeter as it was before 1769. Caleb Hedgeman, a local man, constructed the model between 1817 and 1824. His model shows five of the original Roman gates, one for each point of the compass plus the Water Gate. The gates were demolished, starting with the North Gate in 1769 when Caleb was just 9 years old and ending with the huge South Gate in 1890.
The label for the model tells the story of Caleb’s inspiration. Caleb and his grandfather were watching the demolition of the North Gate. Grandfather knew some of the workmen and told Caleb that one man was known as Flea. He told Caleb that he would never forget that he had seen a gate taken down by a flea. Caleb did remember!
You can have a look at the real thing too. You can see amazing examples of carved wooden doors and paneling that has been removed from houses built between 1650 and 1750. There are also some painted panels, faded and delicate but still good examples of the interior of a merchant’s house.
Other rooms in Exeter Museum house collections of natural history displays. You can see an extensive butterfly collection and a number of stuffed animals, including a giraffe.
Upstairs is the World Cultures gallery. Clothing, household items, tools and articles used for everyday living from Africa, Asia, North and South America. One of the largest objects is a totem pole, carved specially for Exeter Museum.
Enjoy the work of glassmakers and silversmiths in the Ceramics, Glass and Silver room.
Investigate the history and processes of glassmaking. Admire the beautiful results of the maker’s skills.
If you are interested in clocks you will enjoy the clocks and watches in the next room. As you pass through the doors you are met by a symphony of ticking from the dozens of clocks.
They range in size from large church clocks to tiny watches. Some of the watch mechanisms are so small they need a magnifying glass. Exeter Museum has thoughtfully provided several so that you can see them in all their detail.
In addition to the regular exhibits there are special displays and exhibitions on show throughout the year.
Last but by no means least, when you’ve finished your journey around the world and through history pay a visit to Exeter Museum’s Consort Café for a well deserved cup of tea. Enjoy it.
Exeter Museum is open on Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am until 5:00pm except on Bank Holidays.
Following an extensive refurbishment the museum is now open again. The program of events changes frequently and new exhibitions are planned throughout the coming year.
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Admission is free
There is level access at side and rear of building for wheelchair users and the new lift can carry the disabled, wheelchairs and pushchairs to the first floor.
The Royal Albert Museum,
Tel: 01392 665858