2019 Programme

Details of the 2019 Programme, which starts in March. will be posted as soon as they become available, and we hope that the full programme will be finalised by early February. 

Provisional dates have been booked for evening meetings in the Mayoralty Room on: Tuesday, March 12th; Tuesday, April 9th; Tuesday, May 14th; Tuesday, June 11th; Tuesday, September 10th; Tuesday, October 8th; Tuesday November 19th (AGM).

                                                   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.

                                                     2017 Programme
Tuesday 11th April      ‘Tiverton: a very Rotten Borough’ – Mike Sampson
The author of ‘A History of Tiverton’ will describe the long and often turbulent period when the town was represented by two Members of Parliament.
Tuesday 25th April   (2.30 p.m.)   ‘The Future of the Civic Movement     –  Ian Harvey
The co-founder and executive director of Civic Voice, the parent body for hundreds of Civic Societies, will discuss the organisation’s many achievements, including several important and  successful campaigns, as well as  plans for the future.
(n.b. This talk was originally planned for Tuesday, March 7th).
Tuesday 9th May         ‘The Ancient Houses of Exeter’         –  John Allan
The recent major fire has focussed considerable attention on Exeter’s unique heritage of mediaeval and Tudor domestic architecture. Dr Allan has played an important role in the recording and conservation of these buildings.
Friday 19th May             Guided Visit to Cadhay, Ottery St Mary
Tuesday 13th June       ‘The Modern Teenager’                         -Sammy Crook
The recently appointed Head of Tiverton High School will discuss challenges and opportunities for the rising generation.
Wednesday 14th June  Guided Visit to Hillersdon House and Gardens, Cullompton
Thursday 7th – Sunday 10th September
HERITAGE OPEN DAYS. A four- day festival celebrating England’s local history and giving access to thousands of places usually closed to the public. Details of the local programme, organised by this society, will be published separately.
 Tuesday 12th September     ‘The Art of Saving Venice’             – Jonno Keates                                             
Jonno Keates is Chairman of Venice in Peril which ‘has disbursed millions of pounds for the restoration of Venetian monuments, buildings and works of art’.
Tuesday 10th October   ‘Jack Russell – The Sporting  Parson’  – Charles Noon
Charles Noon has written a biography recounting the rich and varied story of the well-known Blundellian and Devonian, perhaps most renowned for his development of the Jack Russell terrier.
Tuesday 14th November                   ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING followed by:
‘Building our Future to Secure our Past’          –Andrea Rowe and Pippa Griffith

The recent achievements of the Mid Devon Museum, as well as present challenges and plans for the future.


2016  Programme

Wednesday March 16th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

‘A new era for heritage: the work of Historic England in the South West’ – Elizabeth Clare

In April 2015 two successor bodies to English Heritage were launched, marking one of the biggest changes to the way heritage is managed in England for a generation. This talk will explain why this change was made, and, one year on, give an overview of the work of the new public body Historic England in the South West, from the tackling of ‘heritage at risk’ to celebrating C20th art and architecture.

Tuesday April 12th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m. 

‘Secrecy letters, codes and espionage in Elizabethan England‘ – James Daybell

James Daybell is Professor of Early Modern British History at the University of Plymouth, he has written extensively on Tudor England and he was one of the presenters for the recent BBC2 series ‘The Armada: 12 Days to Save England’. A number of members will recall his fascinating talk  to the Courtenay Society last summer about Lady Gertrude Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter.

Tuesday May 10th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

‘The Art of the Devon Garden’ – Todd Gray

A welcome return for Todd Gray, who has written over fifty books on Devon history. He promises to include local gardens in his illustrated talk, which will include historical images created in glass, pottery, fabric, wood and stone as well as on paper and canvas. Todd will be President of the Devonshire Association for 2016/2017 and will preside over its 154th Conference at Cullompton from June 3rd -June 5th.

Monday, May 16th.

Visit to the Somerset Levels, which will include Muchelney Abbey (English Heritage) and Priest’s House (National Trust); the fine churches at North Curry (‘The cathedral of the moors’) and Muchelney; and the John Leach Pottery. Timings and costs to follow.

Tuesday June 14th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

‘Richard Cosway, Tiverton Miniaturist – A parochial view’  – Mike Patrick

Mike Patrick, former Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, returns to give an illustrated talk about the celebrated artist Richard Cosway. He feels ‘that Tiverton has not yet firmly embraced one of its most famous sons’

Tuesday July 5th. 2.00 – 5. 00 p.m.

Guided visit to Cadeleigh Church, Cadbury Church and Fursdon House. A follow-up to David Fursdon’s very popular talk in 2015. Timings and costs to follow.

Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th September.

Heritage Open Days. A four-day festival celebrating England’s local history and giving access to thousands of places usually closed to the public. Details of the local programme, organized by Anne Davies on behalf of Tiverton Civic Society, will be published separately.

Tuesday September 13th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

‘The Avocet Line, past, present and future’ – Richard Giles

Richard returns to continue his popular series of talks on railway history. His last talk was on Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway and this time he switches his focus to the other side of the Exe Estuary: he has been much involved in the revived fortunes of the scenic Exeter to Exmouth line and its 150th anniversary  celebrations in 2012.

Tuesday October 11th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

‘Petroc Mid Devon Campus, your local college of further and higher education’. An outline of our provision and how we support the local community now and into the future – Mark Challacombe. (Please note change of speaker).

Tuesday October 25th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

‘Flooding in the Exe Valley’. – Ian Hooper

Ian, from the Environment Agency, will give a presentation which will include the geography and hydrology of the Exe catchment, major past flood events, flood defences, flood warnings, climatic change, and development and management issues.

Tuesday November 15th. Mayoralty Room. 7.30 p.m.

Annual General Meeting followed by:

‘The Tiverton Theatre’ – Norman Annett

Norman, one of Tiverton’s most distinguished local historians, has researched the fascinating, but little known, story of the theatre which flourished in St Peter Street from the late 18th to the mid 19th century.

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