Topsham Museum

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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.

Venue Type:

Museum

Opening hours

26 March 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

Admission charges

FREE.

Getting there

Rail: Topsham Station, take Holman Way to Quay, turn left on Strand
Bus: T or 57 from Exeter or Exmouth
Cycle: Route 2

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Natural Sciences, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Personalities, Social History, Land Transport, Maritime

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

War Comes to Topsham

  • 26 March — 31 July 2016 *on now

One of our most successful exhibitions in recent years about residents who were away serving in far away places. The exhibition explores the social and economic life of the town through the background of the combatants and, on the Home Front, tells the stories of the local VAD hospital, the lady bell-ringers, the new allotments and the multitude of war-related fund-raising events. Information has been extracted from school records, local and national newspapers, letters and diaries written by local residents and from primary sources from the National Archives in Kew. Our aim has been to compile a file of information on each one of some 300 local servicemen who returned to the town after the War ended. We regard this as an evolving exhibition and we hope to involve and engage visitors and local people in telling the story of the Great War as it affected the Topsham community. There are also be some activities to interest children associated with this exhibition. Do come and see this new display and if you have any photographs or stories about your family members who served in WW1 we'd really like to talk to you. Please get in touch if you have any information or photographs you could share with us. Currently we have clipboards of information featuring fifteen Topsham residents but in our files you can find documents and information relating to the rest of the 300 local people who served in WW1. Please do come in and browse!, There will be a Lunchtime Lecture at the Museum on May 31st associated with this exhibition. It will be given by Dr David Parker who is the author of the book 'The People of Devon in the First World War', which won the 2014 W.G. Hoskins Prize. Estuary Players will be staging a play based on our research at Matthews Hall from 22-25th November and there will be two performances at the Museum during the summer on 9th and 23rd July. We are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting this project.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Salmon Fishing on the Exe

  • 26 March — 31 July 2016 *on now

One of our most successful exhibitions in recent years was on 'Salmon Fishing' and we are going to reprise the display boards in the Entwistle Room for visitors to enjoy - and maybe they will also see one of the salmon boats working on the Exe during the season. This exhibition will run to the end of July.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Devon Regiment Football Team WW1

War Comes to Topsham

  • 26 March — 31 July 2016 *on now

This exhibition is the result of two years of meticulous
research by our research team. They have investigated
the families of all those who served during World War I from Topsham and have some amazing stories of Topsham men in far-flung corners of the world. The exhibition explores the social and economic life of the town through the background of the
combatants and, on the home front, tells the stories of the local VAD hospital, women bell-ringers,new allotments and fund-raising events. Information has been extracted from school records, newspapers, letters and diaries.We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting this project.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free entry

Website

http://www.devonmuseums.net/War-Comes-to-Topsham/Exhibitions/Topsham-Museum/Museum-Exhibition/

Shopping in Topsham

  • 30 July — 31 October 2016

Topsham once supported a multitude of different shops and tradesmen. Do come and see photographs from the Museum collection showing how these shops looked,where they were, what they sold and who ran them. We will be using many oral history recollections as well as census information, photographs, newspaper advertisements and even printed paper bags to trace the history of some of the buildings in Fore Street and High Street.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Black and White

  • 1 August — 31 October 2016

Late in the 2016 season we are presenting an art exhibition entitled 'Black & White' in the Tea Room. This will feature varied woodcuts produced by artists Hester Holman and Barbara Vincent and other contemporaries.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Lunchtime Lectures 2016

  • 26 April — 25 October 2016 *on now

The Lunchtime Lecture programme for 2016 begins on Tuesday 26th April with a lecture by Bernard Hughes (County Councillor and Canal Enthusiast!) entitled 'The Inland Waterways of England and Wales' (see webpage), Lectures remain on Tuesdays. Doors open at 1045 with coffee available and the lecture begins promptly at 1130 or beforehand if all the seats are taken. Do come early as lectures are always very popular and seating limited. Briefly, the 2016 programmes is as follows. A full list in pdf format can be downloaded from the Museum website (Our Downloads). Tuesday 31st May: Devon during World War 1 - Dr David Parker, Historian, Tuesday 28th June: Finds from Shipwrecks in Devon - Charlotte Coles (Osteoarchaelogist, Exeter Archaeology), Tuesday 26th July: The Seaton Down Hoard - Thomas Cadbury, Royal Albert Museum, No Lecture in August, Tuesday 27th September: Ernest Shackleton and the James Caird - Professor Herbert Macgregor, academic and yachtsman, Tusday 25th October Topsham's Shops - Then and Now Mark Dant, Topsham Museum & Liz Hodges, Route 2 Bike Shop,

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Devon during World War 1

  • 31 May 2016 10:45am-12:30pm

To mark the Great War Centenary, and to complement our forthcoming 'War Comes to Topsham' in the Local History Room this season, Dr Parker has kindly agreed to speak about his research on the impact of war on Devon's villages and countryside. Dr Parker is a well-known local historian, lives in Exeter, has researched and published extensively in books and journals on early 20th century social history. His lecture, on Tuesday 31st May, is entitled, Devon during World War l. You may have already read Dr Parker's book "The People of Devon in the First World War", which opens with a chapter set in Devon in the summer of 1914. It goes on to explore the impact of the war on Devon's people, soldiers and civilians alike. He will highlight the complexity of the domestic war effort, including the vast VAD and Red Cross contribution across the county and the controversies surrounding Devon farmers' response to the War. He will also discuss just how the roles of women and children altered during the war and how its consequences lasted into the 1920s. We hope that our commemorative exhibition in the Local History Room will give visitors a picture of the experience of Topsham people during the First World War
not just the servicemen but those remaining on the Home Front. The People of Devon in the First World War, £16.99, published by The History Press, Dr Parker's book won the W.G.Hoskins Book of the Year Award in 2014.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Camouflage

  • 3 June 2016 10am-4pm

A family event with the choice of two sessions - either 10 a.m. - 12 noon or 2-4 p.m. Designed for families with children of four years or older. There will be three activities available, each lasting about 30 minutes, and all based on concealment by camouflage. Families can do the activities in any order but all involve going outside in the Museum gardens if the day is fine so please bring suitable footwear. If its wet, the activities will take place indoors. The subjects of the activies will be a) Camouflage in World War One, b) Animal Camouflage and c) Predators and Prey. The picture shows the last remaining WW1 Monitor Ship (the M33) at Portsmouth Dockyard Museum, painted in her Razzle Dazzle camouflage. Tthe intention of dazzle was not to hide but instead to make it difficult for the enemy to estimate a target's range, speed, and heading. Over 4,000 naval ships were painted in Razzle Dazzle during the First World War and each one had a unique pattern. We look forward to a day of fun at the Museum! ,

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Secret Gardens of Topsham 2016

Topsham Secret Gardens 2016

  • 26 June 2016 12-5pm

Save the date! Secret Gardens of Topsham will take place on June 26th 2016 from 1-6 p.m. All new gardens this year! Our thanks to Wilkinson Grant who have again kindly agreed to sponsor this event.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

£5 in advance, £6 pp on the day itself. Tickets available online mid May.

Website

http://www.devonmuseums.net/Topsham-Secret-Gardens-2016/Events/

Finds from Shipwrecks in Devon

  • 28 June 2016 10:45am-12:30pm

The third Lunchtime Lecture in 2016, entitled Finds from Shipwrecks in Devon, will be given by the archaeologist Charlotte Coles. Charlotte has worked for Wessex Archaeology and Exeter Archaeology and currently works for AC Archaeology as well as undertaking freelance work. She specialises in finds, especially human and animal bones and became interested in finds from shipwrecks after working with several collections from Devon.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

The Seaton Hoard

  • 26 July 2016 10:45am-12:30pm

Speaker: Thomas Cadbury, Royal Albert Museum, In November 2013, the fourth largest hoard of Roman coins ever found was unearthed near Seaton in East Devon. It was discovered by East Devon builder and metal detector enthusiast Laurence Egerton while operating under licence on Clinton Devon Estates land near Seaton Down. The findspot is near to the Honeyditches site which includes a Roman villa and a possible Roman fort. After uncovering the hoard of 22,000 4th Century copper alloy coins, Mr Egerton followed best practice guidelines and reported the find to the landowner Clinton Devon Estates, the Devon County Council archaeologist Bill Horner and to the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme. The hoard was then carefully removed in its entirety by a team of archaeologists and the coins were lightly cleaned, identified and catalogued by experts at the British Museum. Many of them are very well preserved. The ‘Seaton Down Hoard'was declared treasure trove at a Devon Coroner's inquest in September 2014. Mr Egerton described how he found the hoard: “Initially I found two small coins the size of a thumbnail sitting on top of the ground and then, as I began working in a grid formation in the surrounding area I had a 50 50 signal on the metal detector which means that there is probably iron involved. Most detectors are set up to ignore iron but I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins. The next shovel was full of coins - they just spilled out over the field. I had no idea how far down the coins went so I stopped immediately and phoned my wife to come to the site with a camera..I was instructed to take away what was loose and then fill in the hole. Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site I slept alongside it in my car for three nights to guard it! “It's by far the biggest find I've ever had. It really doesn't get any better than this!”, Most of the coins are associated with Emperor Constantine I (the Great) (AD 306-37) and his family. Constantine I was made Emperor while in Britain in AD 306. He promoted Christianity as a state religion and was successful in bringing the empire under one ruler. The latest of the coins come from the joint reign of Constantius II (AD 337-61) and his younger brother Constans (AD 337-50). This was a turbulent period in the history of Roman Britain, a time when settled periods of affluence were interrupted by civil wars, rebellions and invasions and only fifty years after the hoard was buried, Rome's imperial presence in Britain ended. Roman Isca (now Exeter) was the economic and social capital of the South West and Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum, with its extensive Romano-British collection, seemed to be the natural home for the coins and they initiated a fundraising appeal. Dr Roger Bland, Keeper of Britain, Europe and Prehistory, British Museum has said “It is one of the largest coin hoards of the C4th ever found within the Roman Empire but, despite the number of coins found, the financial value would not have been great, amounting to approximately four gold coins (solidi). This sum of money would possibly have provided the ration of four soldiers for one year or a worker's pay for two years.”, Visitors are welcome to stay on after the lecture for a light lunch of soup and crusty bread. (charge applies),

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Drawing for 10 15 year olds

  • 5 August 2016 10am-12:30pm

A practical drawing session designed for 10-15 year olds. More details shortly!

Suitable for

  • Especially for children

Getting there

Rail: Topsham Station, take Holman Way to Quay, turn left on Strand
Bus: T or 57 from Exeter or Exmouth
Cycle: Route 2

Topsham Museum
25 Strand
Topsham, Exeter
Devon
EX3 0AX
England

Website

www.devon.gov.uk/index/culturetourism/culture/museums_heritage/guide_to_devon_museums-3/museums_east_devon/mus_topsham.htm

E-mail

info@topshammuseum.org.uk

Telephone

01392 873244

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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