From his home in London, John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896) witnessed the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway, the first main-line railway to enter London. The London and Birmingham Railway Company was founded in 1833 and work soon began on a London terminus. Engineers George and Robert Stephenson chose a site on the edge of the city; a station with two platforms and two hotels was designed by Philip Hardwick (1792–1870) with a huge 70-foot Doric portico marking the gateway to the north. London Euston station officially opened on 20 July 1837. The following year a temporary terminus opened on Bishop’s Bridge Road in Paddington heralding the expansion of the railways to the west.
Discover brand new ways to support our conservation programme and become part of the history of the Institution
The Institution is a very special place in the heart of Exeter and we need your support now more than ever to ensure that it continues to thrive for generations to come. Watch the video to find out how you can get involved and become part of the fascinating history of the Devon and Exeter Institution.
Originally from Barnstaple in Devon, John Gay (1685-1732) became one of London’s most renowned dramatists. His satirical ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera, opened at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre on 29 January 1728 and ran for 62 nights. Gay’s assault on the topsy-turvy morals, double-standards and self-interests of 18th century politics and aristocratic society remains one of the few 18th century plays still performed today.
This week's Book in Isolation transports you to the Outer Library of the Institution to delve into the history of the Institution's bindings.
Beautiful, intricate and varied, shells have adorned our clothes, our homes and our objects of art for centuries. From the end of the 17th century, natural scientists began to collect, organise, observe and draw them in earnest. George Montagu’s Testacea Britannica (1803) is one of the most important works of natural history to come out of the Age of Enlightenment – and it has a special significance for Exeter.
In his day, W. E. Norris was described as the ‘Gainsborough of English novelists’, an heir to Trollope and a writer of ‘Disraelian intensity’ … so why aren’t we reading his novels today?
Beth Howell investigates curiosity in the animals and wildlife described and depicted in 19th century books of exploration in the collections of the Devon and Exeter Institution - what animal can you draw?
From the early 19th century, Koenig & Bauer’s new steam-powered double-cylinder printing press, capable of printing over 1100 sheets an hour, disseminated information fast. The circulation of The Times newspaper increased from 5,000 to 50,000 by the middle of the century. However, not all printing was about speed – in 1822 William Savage published his guide to fine art printmaking – still a popular art form today.
Furloughed on half pay following the end of the war with France, Captain Hugh Clapperton (1788–1827) looked to augment his income with an intrepid exploration into the African interior.
What is the secret of good writing for children? Is there even such a thing as a children's book? As an adult alert to the child within, Lewis Carroll knew instinctively how to write for children and adults simultaneously.
Throughout March, April and May 2020 we were delighted to bring you our popular family learning programme and Bookworms junior members' club online.
Linked here - Join in with craft activities, workshops and experiments using materials that are easy to find at home.
Lighthouse keepers were certainly used to living in isolation; in this week's guest blog Edward Maunder tells the story of John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, situated 9 miles south of Rame Head off the Cornish coast.
If you are beginning to tire of the present lockdown you may perhaps find some solace in this little book of travels in the boudoir, or how to travel the world without leaving the house - something, it would seem, that women especially were rather good at in the early 19th century.
The third President of the United States of America is best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence that galvanised the British colonies in their fight to become a new nation. At home he immersed himself in science, engineering, architecture and book collecting – even rescuing one of the world’s greatest libraries.
Lunchtime Lecture: “By all that is sacred in our hopes for the human race, I conjure those who love happiness and truth, to give a fair trial to the vegetable system”-
Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Vindication of Natural Diet
The Devon and Exeter Institution secures National Lottery investment for its project ‘The Next Chapter’
Our latest press release - The Devon and Exeter Institution secures National Lottery investment for its project 'The Next Chapter'
Philip Henry Gosse's invention of the aquarium was 'instantly accepted by naturalists and amateurs alike, and became to the one a portable studio of biology, to the others a charming and fashionable toy'.
Sir John Hawkins' greatest literary achievements were thwarted by bad timing and, according to some accounts, by the 'paltry malice, and base tricks' of his mean-spirited contemporaries.
Parents all over the country are preparing for what could be many months of ‘home schooling’ – but it’s easier said than done. This little book – a two-hundred-year-old ‘domestic […]
Due to the current situation the DEI will remain closed until further notice.
In the meantime we are proud to be bringing much of our programme and events online to provide diversion, entertainment and activities while we are all shut away from the real world. Keep checking our website and social media for new content.
Deadline 8 June 2020 -
We are tendering for a Conservation Architect.
The Devon and Exeter institution is Grade II* listed building adjacent to a Scheduled Monument which houses an independent library and dating from 1813. We have been an educational charity since 1989. We completed a major structural restoration to the roof on time and on budget, between 2015-2017 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England.
We are now seeking to appoint an architect to deliver the preliminary works for the development phase of another major National Heritage Lottery Funded project.
Friedrich Christian Accum (1769-1838) popularised the study of chemistry in the early years of the 19th century. Originally from Germany, Accum moved to London in 1793. There he met William […]
William Nicholson (1753-1815) was an Enlightenment polymath – a chemist, scientist, civil engineer, translator, publisher and journalist. In his early career he even wrote literary skits for periodicals. When he […]