Saturday June 22nd

Stuart Blaylock will sharing further insights into the work of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society and speak about  papers and illustrations which have been found recently.



Saturday Snippet Archive

A number of our members have provided details of their presentations. These can be found on the research resources page.


March 2019

Tony Rhodes

Cooking with the Books

from Hannah Wolley (1674) to Elizabeth David – A look at the early recipe books in the collection


January 2019

Jenny Ridd

George Rowe – Artist and Printmaker


 December 2018

Eden Phillpotts 

Peter Wingfield-Digby spoke about the life and works of Eden Phillpotts. Eden was born in India. His father Henry – who was a nephew of the famous Bishop of Exeter Henry Phillpotts – was in the Bengal Infantry, but died when Eden was only 3. His mother came back to England, and the three boys went to Mannamead School, now part of Plymouth College. Eden worked in an insurance office in London for ten years before becoming a full-time writer and moving to Torquay. He lived there for 30 years, and then moved to Broadclyst, where he lived another 30 years.


November 2018

Richard Buscall

‘Jane Marcet’s ‘Conversations on Chemistry’: the books that introduced Michael Faraday to science’.


 October 2018

Clare Maudling

Towns of the Future: Discovering town planning and development in the DEI

The major post-war plans of Exeter and Plymouth are well known, but did you know there was an equally radical plan for Exeter mooted in 1913? Or that the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has its roots with Plymouth’s post-war planner, Patrick Abercrombie, and the rise of ribbon development? From the development of garden cities to the future of Devon, the DEI has as range of sources for examining urban development and change, which will be presented in this Saturday Snippet.


Saturday 1st September 2018

 Jeremy Lawford      The Victorian Art of Persuasion 


April 2018

Professor Mark Stoyle of the University of Southampton spoke about the way in which the books held at the Devon and Exeter Institution have, for many years, played a key role in inspiring his research into the history of the early modern West Country.
Mark picked out the following works as having been of especial interest to him in his work on the Western Rising of 1549, on witchcraft in Exeter and on the English Civil War of 1642-46, respectively.
F. Rose-Troup, The Western Rebellion of 1549 (London, 1913).
J and J. H Wylie, Report on the Records of the City of Exeter (London, 1916).
R.W. Cotton, Barnstaple and the Northern Parts of Devon during the English Civil War (London, 1889).”
January 2018

John Allan shared our collection of architectural drawings:

The DEI holds an extensive and important collection of architectural drawings, mainly of the 19th century, much of which is not well known.


December 2017 

Dr David Parker will share insights into the Victorian era.

A critical look at the illustrations and accompanying articles in the Illustrated London News and some other prints in the DEIs collection.

This Saturday Snippets explored the vast array of contemporary illustrations and articles, many by famous artists, engravers and writers, to be found in the volumes of the Illustrated London News founded in May 1842.   Nearly everyone has heard of it, but few delve into its pages.  The annual volumes on the inner library shelves of the DEI run up to 1893 and provide the reader and researcher with an invaluable insight into Victorian aristocratic and working class society, technological advances and the various international exhibitions devoted to them, the growth of leisure and sporting activities, Imperial ambitions and the numerous wars caused by them, and the world that was expanding through exploration, colonialism and trade.    The illustrations – all hand drawn up until the first printed photographs in the 1890s – and the accompanying articles provided readers then, and now, with an engrossing insight and commentary (usually nationalistic but frequently caustic) into current affairs.  Often they provide an unusual, and thought-provoking, slant on emerging issues.


November 2017

Paul Auchterlonie shared books from the Geography collection.

The nineteenth century was the century of exploration and discovery and the proprietors of the DEI followed the adventures of these brave men  (and occasional women) all over the globe from the deserts of Arabia through the jungles of Equatorial Africa to the frozen wastes of the Arctic. 

The geography collection on the DEI (class G now shelved in the gallery) contains not only some of the most interesting books of the period but also some of the most beautifully illustrated, and Saturday’s talk will be an opportunity to explore the intrepid world of the great explorers.


October 2017

Dr Robin Wootton shared books from the Natural History Collection.

Saturday Snippet Summary – Robin Wootton

The D&EI was founded at a time of intense interest and activity in the natural sciences, and this is amply reflected in its library. There are early editions of many of the leading C18th naturalists: Gilbert White, Thomas Pennant, George Montagu, William Ellis, as well as Carl Linnaeus, the founder of modern systematic biology, and the Comte de Buffon, the great encyclopaedist. The spectacular advances in knowledge of the living world that resulted from expeditions and from the availability of good microscopes in the C19th are reflected in a fine collection of monographs on specific groups of animals, plants and Protista, often published by the still extant Ray Society. Among many others these include the splendid account of the stalk-eyed Crustacea by William Elford Leach, who was the prime mover in the foundation of the Institution, as well as Charles Darwin’s monograph of the world’s barnacles, published before The Origin of Species, and that of Philip Henry Gosse on British sea anemones and corals. Gosse, one of the greatest of all observational biologists, who spent much of his life in Devon, is also well represented by his popular writings.

The early years of the Institution saw one of the greatest of all human intellectual revolutions: the realisation that species were not created in their present form but have evolved from simplest beginnings through hundreds of millions of years. The library’s collections provide a fascinating insight into the progressive development of these ideas and the controversies that surrounded them, with works by several pioneering minor writers as well as those by Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russell Wallace and Thomas Henry Huxley.  The most influential opponents of evolutionary ideas, the comparative morphologists Georges Cuvier and Richard Owen, are also well represented, and a remarkable early run of the Mémoires du Museum d’Histoire Naturelle with papers by Cuvier, Lamarck and St Hilaire in the thick of evolutionary controversy in Paris in the early years of the century is a rare resource for biological historians.

Since 1900, the library has increasingly concentrated on the South West, and natural history acquisitions have been largely limited to this area. The library would provide a useful resource for students of the changes in the flora and fauna of Devon and Cornwall in the last 200 years, should any such be undertaken.


July 2017 

Dr Robert Higham spoke on ‘The Domesday Book, Old English Charters and the Institution’s Library: studying 11th- century England’

Development of the Institution’s library in the 19th century coincided with a period of great interest in the primary sources for medieval English history. This interest continued, unabated, and the library went on to acquire many crucial publications in this field.

This brief talk will draw attention to items on our shelves, published between the 1780s and our own day, containing the texts of Domesday Book and Old English charters or containing scholarly discussions of those sources and what they reveal about late Saxon and early Norman England.

To these printed items can now be added internet resources which can be consulted from desks in our – indeed in any – library amidst the published output of more than two centuries. Past, present and future generations of readers – both professional and amateur – are thus connected.