Topsham Museum is housed in one of a group of late 17th century buildings overlooking the Exe Estuary. Following completion of a stunning 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, completed in 2007, featuring unique historic river craft. Visitors can also enjoy the furnished period rooms of the original house and the Sail Loft with its historical timeline of the town's general history and new display about HMS Terror, a Topsham built ship lost in the Artic. Other interesting exhibits include wildlife of the Exe Estuary, local trades and organisations and a small collection of memorabilia of the film star Vivien Leigh.
Topsham's position as a sheltered harbour enabled it to thrive as a port, a centre for fishing and shipbuilding. In a largely forgotten period the Exe was thronged with sailing vessels and its shipyards were major employers in the town and the trade at its height rivalled that of London.
The Museum incorporates pleasant gardens and a tearoom.
1 April to 31 October
Sun Mon Wed Thu Sat (and Tuesday through August) 14.00-17.00
Group visits at other times by prior arrangement.
Closed: 1 November 2015 to 26 March 2016
Archaeology, Archives, Natural Sciences, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Personalities, Social History, Land Transport, Maritime
50 Years of the Topsham Society
- 1 April — 30 June 2015 *on now
The Topsham Society has now been in existence for fifty years. The Society believes that Topsham's residents regard the town with at least the same affection today as W G Hoskins did in 'Devon' over 50 years ago. The objectives of the Society are:, To promote high standards of planning and architecture in Topsham and its surroundingsTo inform the public of the geography, history, natural history and architecture of TopshamTo secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in Topsham Topsham has a rich inheritance of townscape in a uniquely scenic setting, but in the early 1960's the Town had entered a period described at the time as â€˜a period of genteel decline'. Several attractive buildings were in danger of being cleared or redeveloped in less than sympathetic ways. In response to this challenge, a group of people who cared about the historic character and built environment of the Town and wished to maintain and improve it for the future formed The Topsham Society. Today the Society has around 300 members who pay a small annual fee and elect a committee to look after our main areas of interest. These include planning and architectural quality and the preservation and improvement of features of historic or public interest. The Committee represents a wide area of Topsham interests and keeps in touch with members by monthly items in the Estuary magazine and a bi-annual newsletter. The Society also worka in close liaison with the Topsham Community Association and the Topsham Museum Society, and there is overlapping committee membership between these organisations. Over 30 years ago, The Topsham Society published what has proved to be a very popular â€˜Account of the Streets and Buildings of Topsham'. This took the form of a book, with strip illustrations of the buildings, drawn by the late Caroline Oboussier. This publication was recently updated and extended, and it continues to be a valuable way of disseminating information about the quality and character of buildings in the Town. Copies are available for sale. In responding to new development proposals, the Society encourages sympathetic improvements to the submitted plans. In support of this, in 2005 they initiated a scheme which they call the â€˜Enhancing Topsham Awards'. These awards recognise and celebrate new developments and projects which enhance and improve the town and have played a positive part in their efforts to promote high standards in planning and architecture. Other areas of activity include planting trees and caring for open areas
organising guided town walks
a programme of talks and visits and the annual award of The Topsham School Cup, for a piece of writing, poetry, painting or collage, by children attending Topsham School.
- Any age
- 1 April — 31 October 2015 *on now
We have three exhibition spaces which we are using for changing and guest exhibitions, as well as displaying pictures from our reserve store. The Local History Room starts with an exhibition celebrating the fifty years the Topsham Society have been in existence, showing some of their achievements and concerns. In July this will change to an exhibition 'Wild about Topsham' showing the wildlife,foliage and rocks found in our area in conjunction with the RSPB. The Entwistle room will revisit the displays about the Civil War, and the connections with Monmouth and William Orange and then in June, an exhibition called Crossing the Exe will be put up. The Tearoom will initially show a selling exhibition of paintings of Topsham and estuary scenes before pictures from the reserve store are revealed.
- Any age
Crossing the Exe
- 1 June — 31 October 2015
A new exhibition celebrating 800 years of ferry services on the River Exe. It features Topsham's ferry and the River Exe Bridges. , Ferry crossings on the river downstream of the ancient fording locations in Exeter have naturally over the centuries been of significant interest to travellers, as well as being of strategic importance. At times in the past crossings could be very hazardous. All are now primarily recreational trips, with few passengers crossing to get to work. , Topsham Passage ferry probably dates back to the Middle Ages, when the port of Topsham was flourishing and the ship canal did not extend to Turf Locks. This foot ferry was much used in the recent past by people travelling to and from Exminster station and to work at Exminster Hospital. The crossing linking Exeter Quay to Haven Banks (Butts Ferry) is also of medieval origin. It is technically a floating bridge, of which there are only five in this country.
- Any age
The Woollen Cloth Trail
- 31 March — 31 October 2015 *on now
Follow the Cullompton Cloth Trail, around Cullompton town centre. Serges produced in the area were exported to the Continent from Topsham Quay. By visiting the places in this trail you will build up a picture of how Culm Valley cloth and clothing was produced, financed and distributed around the world over many centuries.The river Culm flows from the Blackdown Hills into the Exe and out to sea through the ports of Exeter and Topsham. There is a long history of cloth and clothing production in settlements and mills using water power along the Culm, with exports from Exeter and Topsham. The production and distribution of cloth in theCulm Valley is situated within a wider area, with links to clothiers, manufacturers and financiers in Wellington, Tiverton, Crediton and Exeter. New Cloth trail and quiz, Copies of a Cloth trail are available from CullomptonTown Hall and other venues (the Community centre, the Walronds, the Hayridge and Coldharbour Mill). The Trail has two parts:, 1) A tour around the towns and villages of the Culm Valley to places which, taken together, show you a great deal about the history of the cloth trade in Devon, 2) A walking tour around CUllompton town centre highlighting 20 places with cloth and clothing trade connections. There is also a quiz, designed for children but also fun for adults. The quiz visits the same 20 places in Cullompton town centre as the walking tour. Over Easter a competition is on for children and young people (judging categories under 12
12-18) to complete the quiz and return to the Town Hall by 17 April. A prize will be awarded in each age category,
- Any age
Lunchtime Lecture Programme 2015
- 28 April — 27 October 2015 *on now
The popular Topsham Museum Lunchtime Lecture programme begins this year on April 28th. Please note that Lectures will now take place on TUESDAYS. Doors will open at 10.45 a.m. and coffee will be available beforehand.
2015 Programme: Tuesday 28th April Re-visiting Exeter's Roman Baths: recent plans to display the legionary baths Speaker: Professor Valerie Maxfield, Archaelogist, Tuesday 26th May The Newlyn School and other art colonies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries Speaker: Professor Sam Smiles, Art Historian, Tuesday 30th June Crossing the Exe -Topsham's Ferry & River Exe Bridges Speakers: Anna Adcock & Mark Dant, Topsham Museum, Tuesday 28th July The Nature of the Exe RSPB speaker, NO LECTURE IN AUGUST, Tuesday 29th September Charitable Activities in Exeter during the First World War Speaker: Dr Richard Batten, Historian, Tuesday 27th October Lighting the Darkness: exploriing RAMM's magic lantern slide collection Speaker: Jenny Durrant, Royal Albert Museum,
Celebrating 50 Years of the Topsham Society
- 15 May 2015 6:30-8pm
Topsham Society has been looking after the heritage of Topsham for approximately 50 years. This exhibition looks as some of the events that occurred and people involved during that period. Photographs and information about the changes to the town's landscape and the current debates about planned development.
Lovely museum on the River Exe.
- Any age
The Newlyn School and other art colonies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
- 26 May 2015 10:45am-12:30pm
A lecture by Professor Sam Smiles, Art Historian. The Newlyn School was colony of artists of artists based in or near this fishing village in Southern Cornwall, from the 1880s until the early twentieth century. The establishment of the Newlyn School was reminiscent of the Barbizon School in France, where artists fled Paris to paint in a more pure setting emphasizing natural light. These schools along with a related California movement were also known as 'en plein air'. Newlyn had a number of things guaranteed to attract artists: fantastic light, cheap living, and the availability of inexpensive models. The artists were fascinated by the fishermen's working life at sea and the everyday life in the harbour and nearby villages. Some paintings showed the hazards and tragedy of the community's life, such as women anxiously looking out to sea as the boats go out, or a young woman crying on hearing news of a disaster. , In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lamorna, a nearby fishing village to the south, became popular with artists of the Newlyn School and is particularly associated with the artist S. J. 'Lamorna' Birch who lived there from 1908.
- Not suitable for children
Crossing the Exe Talk
- 30 June 2015 10:45am-12:30pm
A talk on ways of crrossing the River Exe - featuring Topsham's ferry and the River Exe Bridges. Celebrating 800 years of ferry services. Ferry crossings on the River Exe, downstream of the ancient fording locations in Exeter, have over the centuries been of significant interest to travellers, as well as being of strategic importance. At times in the past the crossings could be very hazardous. All are now primarily recreational trips, with few passengers crossing to get to work. , Topsham Passage ferry probably dates back to the Middle Ages, when the port of Topsham was flourishing and the ship canal did not extend to Turf. This foot ferry was much used by people travelling to and from Exminster station and to work at Exminster Hospital. The crossing linking Exeter Quay to Haven Banks (Butts Ferry) is also of medieval origin. It is technically a floating bridge, of which there are only five in this country. Speakers: Anna Adcock and Mark Dant, Topsham Museum,
- Not suitable for children
25 The Strand