For immediate publication


The Devon and Exeter Institution secures a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for The Next Chapter project.

The Devon and Exeter Institution, an independent library and educational charity in the heart of Exeter, has received a £814,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for the second stage of its project, following a development grant of £186,000 awarded in March 2020; a total grant of one million pounds.

The Next Chapter project will take place over the next three years and will:

  • create an enhanced welcome area, better access and upgraded facilities
  • open-up the Institution’s front rooms and garden spaces for reading and events
  • offer an enhanced programme of activities for all ages and abilities, including events for UNESCO City of Literature
  • support essential conservation work, a collection review and the development of a long-term research strategy


“This is great news for the Devon and Exeter Institution and its remarkable home at the heart of our city.  The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s generous support will allow a much broader audience to enjoy the DEI’s unique collection, securing it for generations as a jewel of Exeter’s literary heritage.’’

Said Charles Courtenay, The Earl of Devon


‘’This is fabulous news and will further help our charity and its beautiful Georgian library and reading rooms, to secure a sustainable future. This investment will improve the way our collection is conserved and enable greater access to this superb heritage organisation in the dynamic city of Exeter.’’

Said John Reeves, Chair of Trustees, Devon and Exeter Institution


‘’The vision for our project is to remove barriers for potential members and visitors by creating better access in all its forms – intellectual, cultural and physical   In this project, we will address the pressing need to reconsider the way we use space in the building; we will become more accessible and further develop our understanding of the collection and our capacity to enhance wellbeing and support pandemic recovery.  Central to our project is the creative drive to engage with a wide range of people, as our founders intended in 1813.’

Said Emma Dunn, Director, Devon and Exeter Institution



Notes to Editors

About the Devon and Exeter Institution

The Devon and Exeter Institution is a thriving independent library and educational charity in the heart of the city.  We welcome new members and visitors of all ages.  Our founders established the Institution in 1813, in order to promote ‘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’.  This resolution remains at the centre of our strategy to this day.

The Institution occupies a Medieval building, originally owned by the Cathedral.  It was inherited by the Courtenay family in the 17th Century and used as their town house for over 150 years.   In 1814, ‘200 Gentlemen of the City’ took ownership of 7 Cathedral Close and adapted the double-courtyard layout to create two elegant Georgian rooms.  These rooms functioned as both library and a museum; museum objects were later donated to form the foundation collection of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 1868.

Today our two galleried libraries hold a unique historical book collection, virtually unchanged since 1813, and collections of maps, prints, drawings, fine and decorative art.  The DEI is also the premier institution collecting books on Devon,particularly in the fields of history and biography.  The Library and collections lie at the heart of the Institution and provide inspiration and a place for research and reading, educational activities, cultural events and lectures

The DEI has been an Educational Charity since 1989 and enjoys a close working relationship with the University of Exeter and other heritage sites across the city.  We offer meeting rooms for business hire; our beautiful libraries are also available to hire for cultural activities and business events. We are open for public tours every Wednesday afternoon from 1pm – 4pm.

We are very proud that the Institution is embarking on yet another new chapter in its long and vibrant history. In March 2020, we secured a grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund for “The Next Chapter”.  This 3-year project will see us upgrade our current spaces facilities, while also making them more accessible; carry out essential conservation work and a collection review; and increase and diversify our educational and events programmes.

The Institution, like many independent libraries, could not do without its wonderful team of volunteers, drawn from its membership, and Exeter University students. The Institution is cherished by members for its calm and peaceful atmosphere in the heart of the city, and its ability to bring a wide range of people together.

The DEI is a strong-knitted community and even during the current global pandemic, we continue to look out for each other.  The staff and trustees are certain that we will emerge from this even more resilient and with a deeper appreciation for the Institution and the role it plays in our lives.


About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.


Further information

For further information, images and interview bookings, please contact:

Ceri McWilliams, Business Administrator

[email protected]

01392 274727