2020 Programme

Provisional dates for our meetings in the Mayoralty Room in 2020 will be Tuesday evenings on March 17th, April 21st, May 12th, June 9th, September 15th, October 6th, and November 17th (AGM). Extra dates are likely to be added for additional meetings and outings. Full detsils should be available by the beginning of February.

  2019 Programme

Unless otherwise indicated, all evening meetings are held in the Mayoralty Room, Tiverton Town Hall, where a lift is available. The door is open by 7 pm and the meeting starts at 7.30 pm. Non-members are welcome on payment of a small fee and refreshments are provided.

Tuesday, March 19th  Irene Andrews –  ‘Introduction to the Devon Heritage Centre’.

Based at the Devon Heritage Centre, Devon Archives and Local Studies holds a large and fascinating collection of records and published works relating to Devon’s rich and varied past. Irene is the Devon Heritage and Local Studies Manager.

Tuesday, April 9th  Des Atkinson ‘Canonsleigh Abbey – A Thriving Devon Nunnery?

The evocative listed ruins of the 11th century Augustinian Priory lie near the Grand Western Canal. Des is based at the University of Exeter and his recent researches have cast much new light on the history of these fascinating buildings.

Tuesday, May 14  Mike Patrick‘The Canal that Never Reached the Sea’.

Mike, former Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, makes a welcome return, and he will look at the history of the Grand Western Canal, which was originally intended to link Taunton to Topsham, but was never completed.

Tuesday, June 11th Mike Sampson‘R.D.Blackmore and Lorna Doone’

In 2019 the 150th anniversary of the first publication of the famous novel Lorna Doone, which is partially set at Blundell’s School, is being celebrated in Exmoor National Park  where the bulk of the action takes place. Mike, always a welcome speaker at our meetings, will trace the background of the story and talk about the author.

Wednesday, June 12th Visit to Ugbrooke House and Gardens, Chudleigh, The Grade 1 house, restored in the 17th and 18th centuries, is the ancestral home of the Clifford family.

Friday, September 13th Alice Thomson – ‘Politics and the Countryside’

Alice, a journalist and author, is well-known for her weekly column in The Times. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph, Vogue and The Spectator and she has appeared on Question Time and Newsnight. In 2014, jointly with colleagues from The Times, she was Press Gazette Political Journalist of the Year. Alice is a member of the Policy Committee of CPRE.

September 13th – 22nd. Heritage Open Days .Details will be announced later.

Wednesday, September 25th. Visit to Priesthall and St Mary’s Church, Kentisbeare. The Grade II* Priesthall,  dating back to the 15th century, has many fascinating original features, and it was the mediaeval rectory. The outstanding Grade 1 church has a fine  screen and gallery and interesting monuments.

Tuesday, October 8th John Doble – ‘From Africa to Everest and Tibet’.

A former army officer and diplomat, John Doble was British High Commissioner in Swaziland when he sponsored Subusiso Vilane, the first black African to climb Everest. John is a traveller and mountaineer who continues to visit the Himalayas and Africa regularly, actively supporting many charities.

Tuesday, October 29th  Bart Wielenga‘Reflections of a Head’.

Bart became Head of Blundell’s School in September 2018, having previously been Second Master. He has been described as ‘a relentless optimist who has made a significant contribution to the growth and reputation of the school’.

Tuesday, November 19th Annual General Meeting followed by:

David Pugsley‘When the judge shot the doctor: the fatal duel on Haldon, May 1833’.

As members have previously discovered David, a Professor of Law, specialises in exciting reconstructions of celebrated 19th century West Country court cases, and he will treat us to  another dramatic example.


                                                   2018 Programme

Unless otherwise indicated, all meetings begin at 7.30 pm in the Mayoralty Room at Tiverton Town Hall where a lift is available.  Timings and details for visits will be provided separately

Tuesday, March 13th    ‘From quarries and mines to airports and solar farms – how have Devon’s economic needs influenced landscape?’ – Phil Norrey

Phil has been Chief Executive of Devon County Council since 2006. He gained a First Class Honours Degree in History at Bristol University, where he also completed a PhD in Seventeenth Century Political and Administrative History. He is an Honorary Fellow of  the University of Exeter.

Tuesday, April 10th      ‘ Mediaeval Rood Screens , their Rise and Fall’  – Martin Horrell

‘Martin has devoted much time and energy in recording these examples of mediaeval craftsmanship and his lecture was a delight!’  (Devonshire Association).

Martin is an expert on the subject as well as in church design and craftsmanship.

Tuesday, April 24th        Guided tour of the house and gardens at Ashley Court, Tiverton.  2 – 4 pm.

Tuesday, May 15th   ‘631 Miles of History on the South West Coastal Path’  – David Harvey

David, for charity, walked all 631 miles of the spectacular coastal footpath in 42 consecutive days.

Tuesday, June 12th        ‘What Price Rain’ – Nick Groom

Author and broadcaster, Nick Groom is President of Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England and Professor of English Literature at the University of Exeter. He will be speaking on the environment, conservation, the weather, and economics in the countryside.

Tuesday, July 3rd         ‘The Ancient Houses of Exeter’

Guided walk with John Allan 1.30 – 3.30 p.m.

A follow-up to last May’s very popular talk in the Mayoralty Room.

Heritage Open Days. This year the Heritage Open Days will take place from Thursday, 6th until Sunday, 9th September. Details of the local programme, organised by Anne Davies on behalf of this Society, will be posted when they become available, and they will include guided town walks.

Tuesday, September 11th  ‘Buckfast Abbey, History, Art and Architecture’ – Rev Peter Beacham.

Peter Beacham, a distinguished architectural historian and Chairman of the Devonshire Association, will be speaking about the history of Buckfast Abbey since its early beginnings in the 11th century.: the first abbey was founded one thousand years ago in 1018. He has recently edited a detailed and sumptuously illustrated book with the same title.

Tuesday, October 9th     ‘Knightshayes Court Garden Conservation’  – Jess Evans

Jess studied at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and she was the 2015 winner of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture’s ‘Young Horticulturalist of the Year’ award. She has recently been appointed Head Gardener for the listed 50 acre gardens at Knightshayes Court.

Tuesday, October 30th    ‘The Future of Mid Devon’                        –  Tristan Peat

Tristan is the newly appointed Forward Planning Team Leader for Mid Devon, and he was previously Principal Planning Officer for Teignbridge District Council. His presentation will include the new Local Plan and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.

Friday, November 16th   AGM followed by a talk by Neil Parish, M.P. for Tiverton and Honiton, and Chair of the Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. (Title to follow).

Details of further presentations will be added as soon as they are confirmed. Following her appointment as Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally regrets that she will no longer be able to speak on October 24th.


The photograph shows Tiverton Town Hall. The Mayoralty Room, where we hold our meetings, is on the first floor.