Thursday, 11 July 2013

Devonshire Association comes to Budleigh

Time for a coffee and biscuits on arrival for the Devonshire Association visitors, greeted by Friend of Fairlynch Hazel Harland, right.
Fairlynch Museum hosted a visit by members of the Devonshire Association’s East Devon branch on Thursday 11 July.

Among its many activities the Association regularly organises all-day excursions to the county’s towns to give members an insight into the history and particular features of a community. This was the first organised visit by DA members to Budleigh Salterton. St Peter’s Church and the long-established Croquet Club as well as the Museum were included on the itinerary.  

The visitors were shown various areas of the Museum by volunteers Iris Ansell, Sue Morgan and Margaret Williams.  Museum Secretary Michael Downes told them something of the life and career of Henry Carter FRS, the Victorian physician, geologist and marine sponge expert who himself was a member of the Devonshire Association, though only briefly.

The impressive display in the Costume Room is always of interest for visitors. The DA members were met here by Iris Ansell, right.

Not often seen by visitors are the Museum's costume storage facilities in the Linhay. Thousands of items in every kind of material are kept here in controlled conditions.   

Above: Lacemaker Sue Morgan shows off one of the many rare items of lace kept in the Linhay 

The visitors had the opportunity of seeing back-stage at the Museum, and even handling some of the items while wearing protective gloves. Iris Ansell explained how items donated to Fairlynch are assessed for their importance and their condition  
The East Devon section with 150 members is the second biggest branch of the Devonshire Association, which is a non-profit-making body, founded in 1862 and dedicated to the study and appreciation of all matters relating to Devon. It is the only society concerned with every aspect of the county and is the only one of its kind in Britain.

In 1861, a Cornishman, the geologist and local archaeologist William Pengelly (1812-94), proposed the establishment of a local organization modelled on the British Association for the Advancement of Science but concentrating on Devon and covering all areas of scholarly enquiry. The first meeting was held in Exeter the following year. By 1887, membership had risen from an initial 69 to 500, and reached a record 1,807 during the Association’s centenary year – 1962. Today the DA has about 1,300 members.

The organization consists of an annually elected President and an Executive Committee. There are eight regional Branches – Axe Valley, Bideford, East Devon, Exeter, Okehampton, Plymouth, South Devon and Tavistock. Within the DA there are eight specialist Sections – Botany, Buildings, Entomology, Geology, History, Literature & Art, Industrial Archaeology and Music. Each Branch and Section has its own committee and organises its own annual programme of events. Branch programmes are more broadly-based than their specialist counterparts.

Over one hundred activities are run each year in all parts of the county – talks, exhibitions, excursions, walks, field trips, symposia, concerts and courses. Major annual events include the Annual Conference, held in a different Devon town, and the President’s Symposium.

The most significant record of the Association’s activities is contained in its annual Reports and Transactions series, which has provided an outlet for a wide range of research on Devon since 1863. It is the greatest single source of information about the county.

For more information about the DA click on

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