About us

The Devon and Exeter Institution is a subscription library which is open to new members of all ages.


The Devon and Exeter Institution is a subscription library which is open to new members of all ages.  We are open from Monday -Friday 9.30-5.00pm and on Saturdays from 10am – 4pm.

Our founders established the Institution in 1813:

‘…for promoting the general diffusion of Science, Literature and the Arts, and for illustrating the Natural and Civil History of the county of Devon and the History of the City of Exeter.’

We became an educational charity in 1989.

The library holds 35,000 volumes and many thousands of maps, prints, pamphlets, cuttings and leaflets.  The library is deemed of national importance as an intact collection in its original setting.

The DEI is also a living library and books specific to the history of Devon and the Southwest continue to be acquired.

The collection is undergoing extensive conservation to preserve it for future generations.

The Institution occupies historic premises at the heart of Exeter in Cathedral Close.  Adapted from what was once the townhouse of the Courtenay family, the library is housed in two elegant Georgian rooms which provide space for research and reading, educational activities, cultural events and lectures.

The Institution has a close working relationship with the University of Exeter and there are are two bookable meeting rooms enjoying beautiful views of the Cathedral and a charming members’ dining room.

The Institution is cherished by members and visitors alike for its calm and peaceful atmosphere in the midst of a busy city.

Many scholarly books and articles have had their origins in its quiet spaces and a number of leading academics acknowledge the part the Institution has played in the early stages of their careers.

We are open for public tours on Wednesday afternoons form 1pm – 4pm.

To find out more about joining us, go to our membership page.